THE JUNIOR P.T. USHA

Today we are going to speak about a very talented and young athlete from Odisha, Dutee Chand, who had faced many challenges and protests during her career and also from her family. She also received Arjuna Award this year in athletics. She was born at Jajpur district of Odisha on 03 Feb, 1996 in a poor weaver’s family. Her parents are Chakhradhar Chand and Akhuri Chand, brother Ravindra Chand and sisters Saraswati Chand, Sanjulata Chand, Anjana Chand, Pratima Chand and Aliva Chand. She is inspired from her elder sister Saraswati Chand who competed at state level in running.

She became champion at National Youth (Under-18) Junior Athletics at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore by breaking a national record in 100 meters event in 11.2 seconds on 13 July, 2012. At Asian Athletics Championships, 2013 in Pune she got bronze in Women’s 200 meters event. She reached 2013 World Youth Championships and became first Indian to reach final of any global athletics 100 meters final. She became national champion in 2013 at National Senior Athletics Championship at Ranchi in 100 meters and 200 meters, clocking 11.73s and 23.73s respectively.

She won two golds at Asian Junior Athletics Championships in 2014 held in Taipei, Republic of China in 200 meters and 4 x 400 meter relays. She was hoping to get qualified for the Commonwealth Games but due to hyperandrogenism she was made ineligible by the Athletics Federation of India to compete as a female athlete. She was also dropped for 2014 Asian Games after Commonwealth Games. This decision was made in compliance with International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was condemned by Australian Intersex Advocates. Athletics Federation of India and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decisions were widely criticised for human rights and affronting Dutee’s privacy. Against this Chand appealed in Court of Arbitration for Sports. IAAF’s policy on hyperandrogenism and high levels of testosterone in women was suspended by the court following her case due to lack of evidence that testosterone increases female athletic performance and gave IAAF two years to provide evidence for this, in July 2015.

Then she participated in 2016 Asian Indoor Athletics Championships at Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar. Here in the qualification round of 60 meters she set the Indian National record of 7.28 seconds. She won bronze medal clocking at 7.37 seconds. At 2016 Federation Cup National Athletics Championships in New Delhi she won gold in women’s 100 meters dash in 11.33 seconds ( breaking 16 year old record of 11.38 seconds of Rachita Mistry), but she missed the qualification norm of 11.32 seconds for the Rio Olympics by the one hundredth of a second. Again she broke the same national record clocking at 11.24 seconds in the twenty sixth International Meeting G Kosanov Memorial at Almaty, Kazakhstan, with this finally she got qualified for the Rio Olympics. Since Rio Olympics she is in Hyderabad for training with young athletes and most notable among them P.V. Sindhu.

In 2017 Asian Athletics Championships at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar she got two bronze medals, one in women’s 100 meters and other in women’s 4 x 100 meters relay with Srabani Nanda, Merlin K Joseph and Himashree Roy. In 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia she got two silver medals one in women’s 100 meters clocking 11.32 seconds (after 32 years since P.T. Usha won in 1986) and other in women’s 200 meters (after 16 years since Saraswati Saha won gold in 2002). First time she won medal in Asian Games for which she expressed her concern by saying “My legal team helped me to come back. But nobody could guarantee what will happen in the future.” She became first Indian woman to win gold at the Universiade in a 100 meter race at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Napoli, Italy.

She studied law from KIIT University. She is employed in Odisha Mining Corporation Ltd as an executive officer. After the Supreme Court of India’s decision to decriminalise gay sex in 2018 she openly declared about her same sex relationship with a girl from her own village in 2019. After this she had faced an heavy objection and was criticised by her own family and village.

Dutee supported Caster Semenya, an Olympics and a World Champion in women’s 800 meters from South Africa, who is still affected by the hyperandrogenism rule of IAAF. Dutee expressed her pain in an interview with Indian Express of that four years by saying “These four years have been extremely tough for me. The negativity, fear of my career ending prematurely, insensitive comments about my body, I have faced them all. I am extremely relieved that I can run fearlessly again, knowing that now my battle exists only on the track and not off it.” She also expressed her concern for Semenya.

As we have seen by her performance at various events that she is the one the best sprinter we have got. She had faced many challenges and gone through various negative thoughts due to her physiological issues. But she returned to the track after winning her fight with the authorities and again proved herself as one of the best. Due to her sexual orientation she got criticised by her own family than also her limbs never got slow on the track, this shows that how she manages to leave all her worries and problems away from the running track. We are sure that she will keep on bringing various shining medals for our nation.

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