Dutee Chand – The Rising Phoenix of India

Dutee Chand
If you ever want to learn about not giving up in life, you do not search for motivational speeches on YouTube as getting to know the story of India’s Dutee Chand is enough! Right from her early days and up until now, Dutee has faced a range of problems in her life, be it personal […]

If you ever want to learn about not giving up in life, you do not search for motivational speeches on YouTube as getting to know the story of India’s Dutee Chand is enough! Right from her early days and up until now, Dutee has faced a range of problems in her life, be it personal or professional, but she has not once let her destiny slip from her hands. She literally is the Rising Phoenix of Indian sports because of her immense courage to make comebacks, one after the other, no matter what life throws at her.

Dutee Chand: Career Highlights!

Year Competition Venue Position Event Timings
2013 Asian Athletics Championships Pune, India 3rd 200m 23.811s
2014 Asian Junior Athletics Championships Taipei, Taiwan 1st 200m 23.74s
2014 Asian Junior Athletics Championships Taipei, Taiwan 1st 4x400m relay 3.40.50mins
2016 Asian Indoor Athletics Championships Doha, Qatar 3rd 60m 7.37s
2017 Asian Athletics Championship Bhubaneshwar, India 3rd 100m 11.52s
Asian Athletics Championships Bhubaneshwar, India 3rd 4x400m relay 44.57
2018 Asian Games Jakarta, Indonesia 2nd 100m 11.32s
2018 Asian Games Jakarta, Indonesia 2nd 200m 23.20s
2019 Asian Athletics Championships Doha, Qatar 3rd 200m 23.24s
2019 XXX Summer Universiade Naples, Italy 1st 100m 11.32s

Struggles in Early Life

Dutee Chand was born in 1996 in Jajpur in Odisha to a family of weavers. In fact, she belonged to a family that was Below the Poverty Line. If this was not enough in terms of monetary issues, she also had 6 siblings – 5 sisters and 1 brother, which directly resulted in a lack of nutritional meals for all the members in the family. However, this did not dampen the hopes of the family to eventually reach a better stage in life.

It all started with Dutee Chand’s elder sister, Saraswati, who was a sprinter as well, and eventually participated in national level competitions. Saraswati, who used run on the banks of the river while practising for races, became a huge inspiration to Dutee. Saraswati settled down and retracted from the sport once she got a government job with the state police. Dutee followed in her sister’s footsteps and soon got a sports scholarship from a government school in Odisha. She enjoyed a strong start to her young career by representing her state in different competitions. However, little did she know that she had much more to look forward to.

Reaching the Top

Dutee Chand

Back in 2012, there was only one name doing the rounds in the track & field circle of India – Dutee Chand. A young 16-year old unknown girl had just broken the national record for 100m sprint in the U-18 category by clocking a speed of 11.8 seconds. She received praise from eminent personalities from around the country, including the legends like PT Usha and Milkha Singh.

She then won a bronze medal in the 2013 Asian Games in 200m. In the same year, she reached the finals of the World Youth Championship, which no other Indian sprinter had done till then. If that was not enough to make it a great year for her, she then became the national champion in both 100m and 200m and improved her national records in the process. In the 2014 Asian Junior Athletics Championship, she was on top of her game, winning the Gold in 200m and 4x400m relay race.

However, Dutee had no idea that all these accolades and praises were soon coming to an end!

The Hyperandrogenism Controversy

Sports Circle

Just before the 2014 Commonwealth Games, all hell broke loose for Dutee Chand as she was stripped off the Indian contingent for the tournament on the basis of failing the test of “female hyperandrogenism”. The Sports Authority of India and the International Association of Athletes Federation banned her from participating on the grounds of her not fitting the limits allowed for this condition. The authorities asked her to undergo a surgery to get rid of this condition. All this happened just two weeks before the Games and a setback like this could break even the most experienced of the campaigners.

Dutee Chand was heartbroken but did not listen to the authorities. Instead, she appealed against this ruling in the Court of Arbitrations for Sports. Two years later, in a landmark decision, the court ruled in favour of Dutee and she was free to run once again. The IAAF and IOC too had to abide by this ruling. However, no decision can give her back the two years she lost due to such an inhumane decision from the authorities and that too when she was at the peak of her career.

Rising from the Ashes

Coming back from the ban, Dutee won the bronze medal in the 60m category in the Asia Indoor Athletics Championship in 2016. A year later, she shattered the national record in women’s 100m sprint by finishing the race in just 11.38 seconds. In the 2018 Asian Games, she won a Silver Medal in both 100m and 200m. She just kept on winning most of the competitions she participated in!

Coming out to public only to lose her family’s support

Post the monumental decision from the Supreme Court in 2018 in favour of the LGBTQ community, Dutee Chand broke her silence and came out to the public as being part of the community. She revealed that she has been in a same-sex relationship for 5 years, thus becoming the first ever Indian sportsperson to openly come out like this. This revelation by her sparked a ton of mixed responses, with a majority of people supporting the athlete. However, it was the comments made by her own family that made her cry as her parents said that they do not approve of such a relationship at all.

Even after such an emotional blow, Dutee Chand continued to move on and focus on the sport!

The Fighter in her continues….

Dutee Chand continued her great form in 2019 when she became the first Indian sprinter to win the Gold Medal at the Universiade. She also became the second Indian sprinter to win a gold medal at an international event, after Hima Das won the 400m at the World U20 Championships in 2018.

In the recently held 59th National Open Athletics Championship, Dutee Chand again bettered her own record in the 100m by clocking a speed of 11.22s!

As this young speedster continues to grow with every event, the Government of India honoured her with the Arjuna Award on 29th August 2020.

With the continuous improvements seen in her career, Dutee Chand is the biggest hope for India right now to win an Olympic medal in a track event. It is our duty as Indian citizens to promote her as much as possible and back her to win everything out there, keeping aside all the negative press related to the controversies she has been in. In fact, we should support her fully and together achieve the dream of bagging an Olympic medal in track & field events.

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