Dutee gears up for her biggest challenge

The athlete insists that she wants to be relaxed in her maiden Olympics, and not think too much about what is going to happen or get overawed by the atmosphere in Rio.

Dutee Chand... self belief is her biggest asset.   -  AP

She has embarked on what is truly a fabulous comeback journey and scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to qualify for the 100m in Olympics (after the qualifying marks were introduced in 2000). The next major destination for Dutee Chand — who has been training in Hyderabad for the last 18 months under the SAI coach, Nagapuri Ramesh, at the GMC Balayogi Stadium (Gachibowli) — is Rio, where she may also get a chance to have a close look at her idol, Usain Bolt.

"I don't want to lose sleep over thinking about my medal prospects. I am aware of the kind of effort needed to realise my ultimate dream. Right now, my focus is on training, to keep improving in every aspect and making sure that I am in the right frame of mind for the biggest challenge of my life,” explained the 20-year-old athlete from Odisha.

“Yes, the Olympics dream was unthinkable when the IAAF slapped a ban on me on grounds of hyperandrogenism. But, that is past. It is time to focus on the huge task ahead. In the process of qualifying for the Rio Games, I had to compete in different meets and that also meant a lot of travelling. This has forced me to work more on my strength and speed straight away,” Dutee said.

According to coach Ramesh, the focus of the training was on an ideal start and to make sure that Dutee doesn’t slow down in the last few paces.

“She has been responding well to different kinds of drills to achieve this twin objective. She is mentally very tough and the best part is her reaction speed is very good,” he said.

Dutee is also grateful for all the support she has received. “I know what I have to do and I am fortunate to have someone like Ramesh Sir to guide me. I must thank Gopi Sir (Pullela Gopi Chand) for providing all the support, like letting me stay in his Academy since I came back from the ban,” she said.

Dutee added: “Self belief has always been my biggest asset and only those who are close to me know what kind of struggle I had gone through to reach this stage.”

The athlete insisted that she wants to be relaxed in her maiden Olympics, and not think too much about what is going to happen or get overawed by the atmosphere in Rio.

“I have heard about the aura of the Olympics. But I am confident of keeping my mind on the biggest task – to do well on the track and not get distracted,” she pointed out.

Dutee said with pride that her success story has ensured that athletics has become the talking point even in villages now, especially amongst girls. “Yes, I am enjoying all the limelight now. But, what is more important is giving off my best in the Olympics. I leave the rest to God,” she said.