Arjuna Award a timely boost for Indian sprinter Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand must break the Olympic qualification mark of 11.15 seconds in the 100m sprint to book her Tokyo ticket.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

Star Indian sprinter and Olympian Dutee Chand is elated on winning the prestigious Arjuna Award and believes that the national recognition will boost her efforts to qualify for the Tokyo Games next year.

The Odisha sprinter is amongst 26 other Indian athletes who will be conferred with the Arjuna Award by President Ram Nath Kovind on August 29 through a virtual ceremony.

The awards were announced at a time when the Indian athletes are returning to training after months of lockdown.

Dutee Chand is ready to use every ounce of the positivity in her Olympic quest.

"The Award has come at the right time,” Dutee Chand told PTI.

“Any recognition by the government for your performance and achievements always boosts the confidence of an athlete.

"This should give me more strength and confidence in my efforts to do well in the Olympics,” Dutee added.

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

Dutee Chand had grabbed headlines by becoming the first Indian female athlete in 36 years to qualify for the 100m event at the Olympics at Rio 2016, by breaching the then Olympic qualifying mark of 11.32 seconds.

Tokyo, however, has the qualification standard set at 11.15 seconds and it remains an uphill task for Dutee Chand - who has a personal best of 11.22 seconds that came last year at the National Open Athletics Championships.

However, the reigning World University Games 100m champion is leaving no stone unturned to land her second consecutive Olympic appearance.

"It will be tough (to breach 11.15 secs) but I am confident to meet it. This award will give me the boost in my efforts," the Asian Games silver-medallist said.

Full training yet to start

Dutee Chand had returned to Odisha from the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala before the lockdown was announced and had to do with home training for months.

It was only in May that the sprinter started outdoor training with the Olympic qualification tournaments all pushed till December by World Athletics.

However, with India now in the unlock phase, Dutee Chand will have to wait before she resumes her full-intensity training with all equipment and support staff.

"I don't have a physio, no masseur currently, they cannot be here due to pandemic,” Dutee Chand said

“My coach (N Ramesh) can only tell through WhatsApp video what I have to do. But that is not enough," added the athlete who is currently at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology.