Sprint queen Dutee Chand confident of making it to Tokyo Olympics

A file photo of Dutee Chand (right)
A file photo of Dutee Chand (right)

India’s best sprinter Dutee Chand is confident of making the cut for the Tokyo Olympics. The difference between the Tokyo Olympics qualification mark (11.15 seconds) and her personal best (11.22 seconds) is something which has worried her fans. Chand will have to improve on her record to board the flight to Tokyo.

One of India’s most iconic sprinters, Dutee Chand, is no stranger to fighting challenges with the odds stacked against her. She has done it time and again on the tracks and in her personal life as well. Chand has managed to come out with flying colors on every occasion.

With just a little more than a month to go before the Tokyo Olympics, Dutee Chand is confident of bringing out the best in her.

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The pandemic has wreaked havoc on her plans. Dutee Chand was all set to race in the World Relay Championships in Poland followed by two world tournaments in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan when travel restrictions arising out of the coronavirus pandemic prevented her participation.

“There have been a lot of changes in training and scheduling of competitions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am disappointed, like everyone else, to have missed running in Poland and other international events, but sadly we cannot do much about it,” Dutee Chand said, in a virtual interaction organized by Senco on Wednesday.

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Had Dutee Chand been able to race in Poland, the monkey would have been off her back. The Indian relay team comprising Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Archana Susenndran, S Dhanalakshmi along with Himshree Roy and AT Daneshwari may well have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics via the World Relay Championships in Poland.

“We (the relay team) could have qualified had we participated in the World Relay Championships in Poland. All of us can run below the 11.60 second-mark and as a team, we could have breached the 43.05 seconds mark and qualified easily,” the Odisha sprinter said.

Stumbling blocks makes Dutee Chand stronger

However, Dutee Chand is used to taking setbacks in her stride. She clinched two gold medals before dropping to a silver medal at the Fed Cup and was immediately bombarded with negative talk questioning her choices, training and even her personal life.

“I have faced a lot of criticism. People look at one performance and say Dutee Chand cannot win. What they cannot see or realize is the hard work that has gone behind it. We overcome injuries, niggles etc and make sure to keep our body fit, but sometimes, it is beyond us too. I had a knee niggle at the Fed Cup and my timing dropped. People don’t see that. I run for India and I pride myself on the fact that I represent the country,” she said.

Tokyo Olympics in sight for Dutee Chand

The star sprinter has now shifted focus to the Indian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place in Patiala from June 21.

The deadline to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics is June 29 and athletes have two ways of making the cut – one through the qualifying standard and the second through the world ranking system.

Dutee Chand is optimistic about securing the berth either through her time or through her world ranking.

“I will try my best to hit the 11.15 second qualifying standard at the Indian Grand Prix 4 and in the National Inter-State Championships, scheduled from June 25. If I fail to achieve the cut-off time, I hope to qualify through my world ranking,” she said.

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Dutee Chand is currently ranked 42 in the world. Fifty-six athletes will compete in the 100m dash at the Olympics and 33 of them will be those who clear the qualification timing and the rest will go through their world rankings for which Dutee Chand comfortably clears the mark as of now.

The star sprinter’s optimism stems from the fact that she has been training hard to secure a berth for the prestigious quadrennial Games.

“We spend nine months in a year on training. From November to January, I focus on less intense training, working out and getting my body ready for the intense sessions. I started heavy-intensity and speed training in February.

She is extremely assured about her improvement and believes she will be on her way to Tokyo next month.

I start running 60m then go on to 80m and then finally 100m. In one day, a 100m run during training is repeated six times. It is that intense. I can see that my stamina has improved and that helps me believe that I can improve my timing too,” she explained.

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Dutee Chand has a particular dream which she wants to realize in Tokyo. It is a single-dimensional goal and the sprinter knows the target is within her reach.

“The Olympics are the biggest event we participate in and there will be athletes who run in less than 11 seconds or so. I aim to run below 11.10 seconds and qualify for the final round,” she said.

Dutee Chand is leaving no stone unturned during training to achieve her goal by running, working out, swimming and doing core exercises and she hopes to make the Tokyo Olympics sojourn count.

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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