Dutee Chand breaks record, but says it’s not enough for Tokyo 2020

After setting a new national university record, India’s fastest woman sprinter speaks exclusively to the Olympics Channel about the tough road to Tokyo 2020.

By Naveen Peter and Abhijeet D’souza ·

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has begun her Olympic year with a comfortable win in the 100m final at the Khelo India University Games on Saturday, but she still has hard yards to put to make it to Tokyo 2020. Dutee’s run to the title at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar saw her set a new national university record and helped her tune for the gruelling season ahead.

With the 2020 Olympics edging closer every day, Dutee Chand knows that she doesn’t have much time to ensure her qualification for Tokyo 2020.

Dutee is still India’s fastest woman - her personal best in the 100m dash stands at 11.22 seconds - but that’s still a considerable distance away from the Olympic qualifying mark of 11.15 seconds. The 24-year-old is aware that it will take a massive effort to improve her timing. “The qualification time that the world body (World Athletics) has set looks really difficult for me,” she said speaking to the Olympic Channel post her race.

“My personal best is also nowhere close to that. But I am still trying. I hope that I will bear the fruit of my hard work very soon. It’s the Olympics... the biggest competition, there's nothing bigger than this! I have seen it first hand when I participated in the Rio Olympics four years ago. I am hoping to be in Tokyo too.”

Dutee Chand’s testing times

Dutee Chand enjoyed a fine run in the initial half of the 2019 season, a period that saw her become the first Indian to win a global 100 metre race. Though she failed to build on that momentum, Dutee Chand was soon out on the track, grinding it out for a testing 2020.

“I started training in October. I was working on my endurance all this while,” she said while sharing her training regimen. “I will be working on my speed from now on. I think the timing I have managed with the kind of training that I underwent in the past few months is good.”

Star Indian sprinter Dutee Chand is training to qualify for her second consecutive Olympic Games. Photo: KIUG media

The Indian sprint ace knows that her efforts so far are not enough if she is to dip below the Olympic qualifying mark. And with the number of events and the quality of competition in India restricted to a certain level, Dutee Chand knows she’ll have to bank on her will than anything else to see her through to Tokyo 2020.

Lack of quality competition

“You might have noticed that countries have 2-3 competitions every month. But here in India, we struggle for quality competition,” she said while reflecting upon the prevalent situation in India.  

“Be it the Indian Grand Prix, or the Federation Cup, there are hardly 3-4 competitions in the entire year. And even there, the number of quality participants are less. The talented athletes lack good competition in the country. There's no one to push them to cross their limits. I think that's why we can't achieve better timings as compared to our international counterparts.”

Having battled and beaten adversities all her career, Dutee Chand will once again have to rely on her gifted talent if she is to line-up at the National Stadium in Tokyo. And if history is anything to go by, one won’t be surprised if the Indian speedster makes the Tokyo Olympics cut.