Everything was stacked against her from not being financially strong to the extent of being judged for hyperandrogenism (without knowing the meaning) by the people concerned. Despite all of this, Dutee Chand has opened a new leaf in the country’s athletic scenario and today she has put Indian athletes on the global map. The double-medallist of the Asian Games has endured everything thrown at her and made it into stepping stone for her success. She speaks exclusively to the
Free Press Journal on her visit to Mumbai

Dutee, you come from a loving family but with a humble background, you fought your way back with two medals at the Asian Games after winning a legal battle that ensued due to your last-minute exclusion from Commonwealth Games in 2014. How did you do all of this at just 23?

Coming from a poor family has some of its own advantages. At a very early age, I understood the value of little things which people with better facilities fail to acknowledge. I didn’t have proper gears to begin with and even tiny achievements were dear to me. So when I was told about my exclusion from the Commonwealth Games, it felt like someone had snatched all my dreams in matter of few moments. I decided that I won’t let all of this hard-work get drained and filed a case in Court of Arbitration for Sport at Switzerland and received a world-wide support for my cause because majority of them understood that hyperandrogenism was not a fault of mine.

How are your preparations going on for Tokyo Olympics in 2020?

I’m trying my best to get as near as possible to the 11-second mark for the 100m race and clock below 23 seconds for 200m race after narrowly missing out on Asian Games gold in both the events in Indonesia. I am getting assistance from foreign coaches and physios as well. I am happy with the way the training is going and confident of making India proud at Tokyo in 2020.

Are you satisfied with the support you are getting for future events?

Odisha government has promised full support and expense for my preparations and this has helped me a lot and has boosted my self-belief. I now know that I only have the clock to beat during training sessions and not focus on other factors.

And what about corporate support?

It is always difficult for a sprinter to get corporate support because this is not a team sport and doesn’t usually catch eyeballs. People don’t pay to watch athletics, they pay to watch team-sports like cricket and football —makes a huge difference. I nonetheless get full support from KIIT University.

Any message for young girls and their parents who neglect sports due to social constraints?

We as a society give more importance to studies and tend to neglect physical fitness. Education is important for brain but so is sports vital for body. It is important to balance both. My message to young girls is to focus on sports as much as you focus on studies. Doesn’t matter if you represent India at world events or not, but it is important to keep your body fit and inculcate a fair competitive spirit within yourself.

What would you be if not a sportswoman?

Maybe a cop. It was in the physical fitness test — a part of job interview for getting selected for Odisha Police that I realised it was far better in running when compared to candidates around. I made up my mind then that from now on I would quit running for jobs and will only run for the honour of representing India globally.