Dutee Chand is in no mood to project herself as one of India’s medal prospects in athletics. Reason? The 22-year-old sprinter, training under SAI coach Nagapuri Ramesh at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad for the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, just wants to focus on training and hope for the best.
Apparently, neither Ramesh nor Dutee are keen to invite pressure by way of expectations. “Of course, for any athlete to stand on the medal podium is something they dream of. I am no different. But let me keep it simple. I will put in the best efforts and hope for the best result,” says a philosophical Dutee, who staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in India’s sporting history after being banished by the IAAF on hyperandrogenism issue in 2014.
The star sprinter, who meant business in the recent National inter-State meet in Guwahati winning gold, says the target is to clock 11.15 before the Asian Games, to be in the reckoning for a medal.
For someone who set a national record of 11.29 in the 100m semifinals in Guwahati (the qualifying mark for Asian Games was 11.67) and then won the gold eventually with an effort of 11.32, Dutee believes it is not impossible given the guidance of her mentor-cum-coach Ramesh.
“Sir knows what exactly I need to peak at the right time. There is a conscious effort to ensure that I am there — physically ready to face the challenges of competing in the Asian Games and also in the right frame of mind, too,” says Dutee, who will be making her maiden Asian Games appearance after missing out the last edition because of the IAAF ban.
For his part, Ramesh points out that the focus will definitely be on ensuring a perfect start. “What impressed me the most, of late, about Dutee is that she is now more at ease with the nuances of running 100m. She is more experienced, which should help her,” feels the coach. Ramesh has been training Dutee for the last three years in Hyderabad with chief national badminton coach P. Gopi Chand taking her as an inmate in his Academy as a special gesture.
“I always believe that Indian girls peak between 22-24 years and last for two more years. And, Dutee is no exception. However, the emphasis is never to relax at this level, looking at the competitors on the track,” says the distinguished coach.
“To put it simply, we are working for the conversion rate — combining all factors like acceleration, explosive speed and power — that makes one a champion sprinter,” Ramesh concludes.
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