Dutee Chand to critics: 'I am not finished yet'

Dutte Chand said her World Universiade gold medal was an answer to her critics, who had written her off after her admission of being in a same-sex relationship.

Dutee Chand accorded with a warm welcome on her arrival at the Bhubaneswar airport after becoming the first Indian athlete to clinch a gold medal in the women's 100-metre sprint category at the 30th Summer University Games in Italy.   -  PTI

Ace sprinter Dutee Chand Wednesday declared that she is not finished yet and the gold she won at the World University Games last week would spur her to achieve more despite the negative vibes from some quarters after her recent admission of being in a same-sex relationship.

The 23-year-old Dutee became the first Indian woman track and field athlete to clinch a gold medal in the World Universiade after she won the 100m dash event in Napoli, Italy on July 9.

READ | Universiade 2019: Dutee Chand wins gold at Naples

Dutte said the gold was an answer to her critics, who had written her off after her admission of being in a same-sex relationship.

“Many people have commented in bad languages. They said that Dutee is now focussed on her personal life and her athletics career will be over. I wanted to let them know that I am not finished yet,” she told PTI in an interview.

“Just like any other human being is concerned about his or her personal life, I also need to think about my personal life. That is why I came out and made everybody know about my relationship.

“But that does not mean that I will neglect my athletics career. I have done (admitted the same-sex relationship) what I thought was needed and now I am focussing on my athletics more than even before,” she added.

After winning gold at the World Universiade, she had also tweeted: “Pull me down, I will come back stronger!”

 

Dutee also described her history-scripting gold in the World Universiade as the “highlight” of her career but wants to keep her feet grounded to focus on the “tougher” tasks of qualifying for the World Championships and Olympics.

READ | World University Games: Dutee Chand finishes fifth in 200m final

Dutee Chand on the podium with the gold medal at Universiade 2019 in Naples.   -  Twitter / Dutee Chand

 

She is yet to qualify for the World Championships - to be held in Doha later this year - and next year’s Olympics in Tokyo. Dutee, who holds the 100m national record of 11.24 seconds, will have to be at her best if she is to qualify for the World Championships between September 27 and October 6.

“The 100m gold was my first at World level, it is my career highlight so far. But it is a tough road ahead. My target is to qualify for the World Championships and then the Olympics,” she said.

“I am overwhelmed by the congratulatory messages from so many people including such important people. But I am not going to be carried away by this (historic 100m gold at World Universiade) and I have to focus on the important events ahead,” said the Odisha runner.

The World Championships qualification timing is 11.24, which is higher than the 2017 standard of 11.26, while the Tokyo Olympics 100m qualifying time is 11.15, which is a much tougher task. Dutee ran her season’s best of 11.26 during the Asian Championships in Doha in April and she will have to at least repeat the feat before September 6 - the deadline for World Championships qualification.

READ | 2020 Olympics: Tough road to Tokyo for Indian athletes

“I have not qualified for either the World Championships or the Olympics and the qualifying timings have been made more difficult this time. I have asked the AFI (Athletics Federation of India) to arrange for some meets in Asia or Europe so that I can qualify for the World Championships,” she added.

Dutee Chand ran her season’s best of 11.26 during the Asian Championships in Doha in April and she will have to at least repeat the feat before September 6 - the deadline for World Championships qualification. (File Photo)   -  AFP

 

The AFI said it is trying to give Dutee two or three meets in Asia or Europe so that she can try and qualify for the World Championships.

“Dutee and her coach (N Ramesh) have requested for some meets and we are trying to arrange two or three races in either Asia or Europe. She should get them,” AFI Communication Manager Divesh Bhal said. “Even otherwise, Dutee may get to run in the World Championships just like in the 2017 edition when she got the quota place after the total number of qualified athletes did not reach the stipulated number for the event (women’s 100m),” he added.

READ | Anas breaks 400m national record, qualifies for Doha World Championships

Dutee took part in the 2017 World Championships in London, where she could not reach the semifinals after clocking a below-par 12.07 in the heats.

Talking about the 2020 Olympics, Dutee said, “Olympics is the ultimate target and I could not do well in the 2016 Games. So I want to do better in the 2020 Olympics but I will have to qualify first and it is not going to be easy.”