A champ in the making

Dutee Chand... gifted with an explosive start.-T. VIJAYA KUMAR

Dutee Chand’s first impressive performance came at the National Youth Championship in Bangalore where she won a grand double (100m and 200m). She eclipsed the 100m meet and National records by clocking 11.80s in the heats and 11.85s in the final. By J. R. Shridharan.

At 17, Dutee Chand is a hot property of Indian athletics. Unmindful of the scorching sun, the diminutive girl from Odisha won the gold in the 100m (11.80s) and 200m (24.53s) at the 10th Junior (under-18) National Athletics Championship in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) recently.

Dutee was the cynosure of the meet and the victory in the 100m made her eligible to take part in the World Youth and Asian Youth Championships in Ukraine and China respectively.

“Yes, she is a precocious talent and we are keen on nurturing her for the future challenges. She is being trained in 200m and 4x400m relay in Patiala,” said S. K. Valson, the General Secretary of the Athletics Federation of India. Dutee has taken the centre stage with her consistent performances in the youth and junior segments since 2007. As a teenager, she sounded her arrival on the big stage by winning two bronze medals (4x100m and 200m) in the Federation Cup in Patiala in April. She is now preparing to take on the seniors in the National Championship in Chennai from June 4.

Dutee’s first impressive performance came at the National Youth Championship in Bangalore where she won a grand double (100m and 200m). She eclipsed the 100m meet and National records by clocking 11.80s in the heats and 11.85s in the final.

At the 58th National School Games in Etawah (Uttar Pradesh), Dutee won a treble (100m, 200m and 400m) and emerged the individual champion at the meet for which she was awarded a Tata Nano by the UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav.

Dutee is at the Indian camp in Patiala now, preparing for the Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“Dutee has an explosive start. We need to guide her on how to make use of the quick start to win a medal in international meets,” said N. Ramesh, the SAI coach in Patiala. However, he is of the view that Dutee’s height (she measures 5ft 4in) might prove to be detrimental, especially in close finishes. “In photo-finishes, athletes with height will make use of their torso effectively to cross the finish line. In fact the winner is decided by the dip,” he said.

Ramesh thinks that the 200m will be the right event for Dutee as she will have enough time to recover and generate speed at the right time.

Hailing from a weaving family and with five sisters and a brother, she had a tough childhood as her father struggled to make both ends meet. Taking a cue from her elder sister, who is an athlete with the Odisha Police, Dutee hit the track and initially concentrated on 400m. “But later, as per my coaches’ suggestion, I took up 200m and 100m. Right now, under Ramesh Sir, I am specialising in 200m and 4x400m relay,” she said.