Dutee Chand focussed on the way ahead

Dutee Chand has set her sights in clocking 11.00 seconds in the months leading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a benchmark, which, in her calculation, should help her get into the final of the 100m at the least.

Dutee Chand clarified that her aim was to give the best for the country and run at her best.   -  PTI

After ending India’s medal drought in the sprint events at the Asian Games – emerging the first since P.T. Usha. Seoul 1986, to win the silver in the 100m and a medal of the same hue to emulate Saraswati Saha’s second-place finish in Busan 2002, the powerhouse in Dutee Chand is determined to further her cause in the track with unwavering enthusiasm.

The 22-year-old has set her sights in clocking 11.00 seconds in the months leading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a benchmark, which, in her calculation, should help her get into the final of the 100m at the least. The national record holder of the event in 11.29s – which she set at the Guwahati inter-State meet in June this year – also clarified that her aim was to give the best for the country and run at her best, while speaking to Sportstar, after being felicitated in Bengaluru on Tuesday by the Sports Journalists’ Federation of India for her double silver strike in Jakarta.

Fresh from her outstanding outing in the second largest multi-discipline Games in the world, the Odisha sprinter, however, admitted that she has not as yet made plans for the special preparations or training in the Tokyo Games. “We will only know after the qualifiers where I will make it to the Olympics, and it will be only thereafter I will be deciding whether to continue training here or abroad."

READ: Dutee: The two silver in Jakarta are the biggest things in my life

“But, at the same time, I will be continuing with the same training regime, which I have been following all along at least until the next year’s Asian Championships and World Championships, the performance in these events being of prime importance now. As an athlete, my job is to work hard and I will train accordingly as per the schedule prepared by my coach, N. Ramesh."

“It is a matter of pride to me that the Chief Minister of my State, Naveen Patnaik has already declared that whatever money I require for training and competing will be met by his Government," said the pint-sized sprinter, before adding that the presence of African born sprinters, competing for Middle East countries, never affected her in Jakarta.

“I just have to run, whoever it is. As all the athletes from different countries have different physical conditions, I can only that fast my body power helps me. So, my aim in Jakarta to do my best and I really did not think about the African athletes in the fray, as I was just focussed on my races and get whatever medal I got."

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Dutee said that she would not have reached any heights, but for the tremendous support provided by the Bhubaneswar-based Kalinga Institute of Industrial Training and its founder, Achutya Samanta, who has always been a benefactor to her. “When I started running, it was he who stepped in a funded my training and competition requirements and simultaneously looking after my education. Now, if I am a fourth-year student of Law, it is all because of this great man. However, even when I complete my degree, I will always like to remain on the track, as an athlete now and as a coach in the future."

“This apart, I would forget the support I received from P. Gopichand and my coach, helping me through the difficult days when I was left out of the National camp in the dark days when my eligibility to contest was questioned. I, thereby, am indebted to them as well."

“Now, people have started asking me about winning a medal in the Olympic Games. But, the truth is I still do not know how to prepare for the Olympics because I have never trained abroad. However, if there is a need to do that, I am very much prepared for what I am aiming to touch 11.00s in the months prior to the 2020 Games. My target was to run 11.25s at the Asian Games and as I reached close to it, clocking 11.32s in the final, I think that I can improve in the remaining two years and do my best in Tokyo.” Dutte Chand concluded.