Ace sprinter Dutee Chand is optimistic about India’s 4x100m relay (women’s) chances at the World Athletics Relays despite not having adequate group practice due to quarantine rules. The World Athletics Relays in Silesia, Poland is a two-day event scheduled to be held on the 1st and 2nd of May, 2021.
Dutee Chand shifted her training base from Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar to the National Institute of Sports in Patiala and spent a whole week in isolation.
The 25-year-old sprinter is one of the vital cogs in the Indian women’s 4x100m relay side which also includes the likes of Hima Das, Himashree Roy, Archana Susenndran, AT Dhaneshwari and S Dhanalakshmi.
The World Athletics Relays is a Tokyo Olympics qualification tournament with the top eight teams automatically qualifying for the quadrennial mega-event.
In the wake of the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in the country, the Sports Authority of India has issued updated SOPs in an attempt to lower the spread of the deadly virus.
Several athletes who are training at SAI campuses across the country have already contracted the virus.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Dutee Chand talked about India's chances at the upcoming World Athletics Relays:
She said: “I came out of the quarantine just a few days back and have resumed my training. Earlier, I used to train with Srabani Nanda, Himashree Roy and Merlin K Joseph for relay races and knew where to give how much time because of the experience.”
“But now, it’s a complete new set of athletes with me. I have not run with the likes of Hima Das, Archana Susenndran and S Dhanalakshmi. I have been training for two days now and we haven’t practiced baton exchange.”
India can qualify for Tokyo Olympics: Dutee Chand
Dutee Chand, a 100-metre national record holder (in 2019 in Ranchi), also expressed her confidence that if the baton exchange practice is done right, then India have the potential to be in the top eight and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Individually we are in good shape but a lot depends on the baton exchange. If that is done correctly and we know the tactics, then we are confident of finishing within the qualification time,” said Dutee Chand, a winner of double silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games.
The Odisha sprinter, who won a gold medal in the 2019 World University Games, has been inconsistent this year.
She won 100m gold at the Indian Grand Prix 1 and 2 before suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Dhanalakshmi in the Federation Cup in Patiala earlier this year. Dutee Chand finished with a time of 11.58s compared to Dhanalakshmi's 11.39s.
Meanwhile, World Athletics has released the final list of entries on Wednesday with the USA withdrawing from the competition at the last moment due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. While it comes as a sigh of relief for India, they still face stiff competition from the likes of Jamaica and the Netherlands.
Jamaica has named Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah in the women’s 4×100m and 4×200m relays while the Dutch have two-time world champion Dafne Schippers (4×100m relay) in their ranks.