December 1, 2020
Asian Games 2018 Athletics Featured

Dutee Chand…. A story of struggle and determination

Dutee Chand.... A story of struggle and determination
Dutee Chand (Twitter)

Dutee Chand created history by winning her second silver medal at Asian Games in 200m, she had earlier won a silver in 100m but the story and the struggle behind the success may be unknown to many.

Like other Indian athletes Dutee has also struggled to find her way but with struggle came hardships and other opposing factors that had all the plans to throw her out of the sport but this 22-year-old from Jajpur beat all the odds to rise and be the true example of woman power.

Her heartfelt story

Chand is an inspiration to the women’s to change the debate on gender and sports. She began sprinting at an age of four, thoroughly inspired by her elder sister Saraswati, who was herself a national level athlete. Following her impressive performances, Chand got a scholarship to train in the capital city of Bhubaneshwar which helped her bag two gold medals at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Taipei, Taiwan, becoming the only first Indian athlete to achieve the rare feet. She earlier became the senior national champion in 100m and 200m in 2013.

Just when the things were looking in her favour and India was about to welcome another champion in Chand, things changed and Athletics Federation of India conducted a series of tests on her without informing her about it. She was later told that she was banned from competing and asked to leave the national camp.

A dejected Chand went back to her home where she discovered on the television that she has been banned for failing “gender test”

The sprinter had hyperandrogenism, a condition which produces higher levels of testosterone than found in the average female body. The rule was introduced in 2011 by IAAF that said, women who naturally produce testosterone at levels usually seen in men would be ineligible to compete as women.

There were three options left for Dutee-

1- Give up the sport and focus on something else for a living

2- Undergo a medical intervention involving surgery and long-term hormone-replacement therapy to lower the androgen levels.

2- Fight against the rule and get justice

It was the time when a fighter in Dutee was born and she choosed to go with the third option. She challenged the rule at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

There were many cases related to like of Dutee, but they silently accepted the verdict and went away quitely so they don’t have to face the social shame.

Chand asked an indirect question “Why do women athletes need to be tested for eligibility at all”?

After some fierce off the track fight, the Court of Arbitration for Sport made a ruling in her favour on  25 July 2015. The court suspended the hyperandrogenism tests for two years, asking the IAAF to provide scientific evidence that higher levels of naturally-occurring testosterone could give an unfair advantage to an athlete’s performance.

The rise of the athlete

The Athletic Federation of India and IAAF’s actions were widely criticised as an affront to Chand’s privacy and human rights. Chand was freed from the ban after missing Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games. She later went on to qualify for the Rio Olympics, where she could not move over from the heats but the spirit of running again is what makes her way more special.

She has shifted base since then and moved to Hyderabad in Telangana. She trains alongside star shuttler PV Sindhu in Pullela Gopichand academy. After shifting her base she said, “It’s like a home away from home. There are lots of friends to gossip with”.

2017 to present times

The star athlete went on to win a bronze medal in 100m at Asian athletics championship held in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha in May, 2017. She followed it up with another bronze in women’s 100x4m relay race alongside Srabani Nanda, Merlin K Joseph and Himashree Roy.

Winning two silver in Asian Games, speaks the volume of her determination and she is allready a bright hope for India’s challenge in Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

We are lucky enough to read the story of this fighter and hope a real life biopic will surely be made on her life which took so much of twists and turns.

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