Dutee Chand aims to defy age in bid to go faster, higher, stronger

Dutee Chand is quick. She’s all the time been quick. But this 12 months, she has to run sooner than she ever has. With the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games cut-offs set just under her private greatest, the two-time Olympian might want to quickly shift gears earlier than she hangs up her boots after the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The ever-present spring in her step is clear as I meet her at a metropolis restaurant right here, however she confesses she’s simply woken up from a nap. She had completed second within the 200m race earlier within the morning on the Khelo India University Games, the place she was edged out by promising teenager Priya Mohan. “I never intended to run the 200m,” says Dutee with a shrug. “My coach said you’re anyway there and it’s a direct final (no heats), so give it a shot.”

Dutee has been India’s quickest feminine runner since she broke onto the scene in 2012 and stays among the many nation’s most profitable feminine sprinters. While she has dominated the home sprinting scene during the last decade, she feels “abhi umar ho rahi hai, body itni tez nahi hai (I’m growing old, I’m not as fast as I used to be).” She’s given herself two extra years, till the Paris Olympics. “Aur 2-3 saal body chalega toh chalaenge (I’ll pull along for 2-3 more years if my body co-operates).”

She provides, “There are four international events this year with the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World University Games and World Championships lined up. I’ve already participated in five events this year to make the cut for these international events.”

Dutee’s bought a far strategy to go, although – her greatest this 12 months got here on the nationwide inter-university championships in February when she ran 100m in 11.44s. She gained the 100m gold right here on the Khelo India University Games in 11.63s, which is much from the qualification marks she has to realize this 12 months – Asian Games (11.36s), Commonwealth Games (11.31s), World University Games (11.44s) and World Championships (11.15s).

For context, she clocked 11.32s to win silver on the 2018 Asian Games, which is simply throughout the qualifying commonplace of 11:36s set for the upcoming 2022 version. And the World Championships lower off is 11.15s, whereas Dutee’s private greatest is 11.17s.

Yet, she is bound of hitting her peak subsequent month.

“I wasn’t able to start training right after the Olympics because I’d hurt my back before the Games. I began training only in December and we’ve mainly worked on rehab and endurance training over the last six months. In the competitions I’ve run in so far…the speeds are purely from my endurance training. I’m yet to begin training for speed…I’m confident of hitting my peak in June/July before the international circuit begins,” she says in earnest.

She provides, “Even now people say ‘Oh Dutee, you are such a big star but why do you have to compete in such small events like national level competitions?’ I say I might be a star today but these events are very important for me to qualify for global events. I compete in all events because it helps me understand how ready my body is and what changes I need to incorporate.”

Dutee takes delight in her consistency during the last decade. “I don’t take any pressure. You win some and lose some. I lost at the inter-state competition last year and people wrote me off but 15 days later I set a national record of 11.17s in Patiala. I don’t stop competing if I don’t do well, that’s not the right approach. I’m proud to have been consistent since 2012, most of my performances in big events have been sub-11.3s,” she says.

Looking forward on the Asian Games that can kick off at Hangzhou on September 11, she says, “I’m certainly aiming for the gold this time, but it won’t be easy. The current generation of runners are clocking times of 11.1s and the Chinese runners have even run 10.9s. My body is becoming slower and I began training quite late this season, but I feel I still have it in me.”

She provides, “I plan to retire after the 2024 Olympics. None of the athletes from my generation are still competing, they’ve all retired. I plan to retire and open an academy in Odisha to unearth new talents.” She hopes to launch the ‘Dutee Chand Athletics Speed Academy’ which can be solely devoted to sprinters.

Hardship has been a continuing companion for Dutee from the very begin – she overcame acute monetary points, fought a hyperandrogenism case in 2014, was ridiculed for popping out as one in every of India’s few brazenly homosexual athletes and continues to be heckled for “styling herself.”

She might need simply woken up from a nap however there’s not a hair misplaced, very like when she’s on the monitor. Her hair is neatly tucked behind her ears and he or she’s sporting a skinny layer of lipstick together with a pair of golden earrings that resemble the solar. And there’s fading purple nail paint on solely her left hand. “I grow my nails in between competitions and chop them right before my events,” she says on cue. Once ridiculed for “styling herself”, she provides in jest that she felt compelled to “apply face cream to look fair on cameras” however that additionally drew flak. Dutee swats away the naysayers with a disarming smile, she lets her working do the speaking. “The records speak for themselves,” she says.

As we finish our chat, Dutee talks about her love for velocity. Her eyes gentle up as she mentions her BMW (one which has generated a lot public debate) and the way she as soon as drove from Bhubaneswar to Hyderabad. “Within speed limits, of course,” she chips in.

She’s simply as quick because the BMW as she strides to the elevator. I battle to meet up with her even when she’s strolling. She’s again within the foyer in a couple of seconds – “Room key nahi chal raha hai (the room key card is not working).”

Each time Dutee has discovered a approach up, she has been pegged again. But that has by no means stopped her, has it?

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