“ In the year 2003 I started running in my village. My school annual sports day was approaching and they announced that the person who would win the competition would get any reading material for free and so my journey in athletics began”.
“Parent’s want their children to be a doctor, engineer, or a businessman but no one wants their child to be a professional athlete, this mindset has to change. The media and the government are promoting sports and times are changing, its time we change too”
Dutee Chand a girl from Chakagopalpur village in Odisha is a true example of how India has hidden talent in every village. She fought all odds to run without any athletic facilities in a village. Dutee‘s journey from running on fields to running on track, brings out the struggle that every athlete faces in remote villages.
India’s ace woman sprinter Dutee Chand is a National record holder, who became the first Indian woman track and field athlete to clinch a gold medal in the World Universiade after she won the 100m dash event in Napoli.
Dutee came into the lime light when she won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in the 100m and 200m events. These were the first for India since the 1986 and 1998 won by PT Usha and Saraswati Saha respectively.The total weight of the medals she’s won is far above her body weight.
Getting to know Dutee with Chaitanya
When did you start running?
My sister was already in sports, she encouraged me to start running. In my younger I dint have any knowledge about running. I used to do my workouts as per my sister’s instructions. My sister told me that I should continue running so I did.
I started my workouts with Long runs, participated in marathons then after couple of years. In Athletics is all about working hard without that one can’t perform .In the year 2003 I started participating in sports events in my village.
There was no ground nearby which made is extremely difficult for me to train but I used to run on the road which passes my house and some times by the rivers. I ran wherever I could run. In the year 2006, I Started training at Orissa Sports hostel and in a year’s time, I got my first national medal.
What were your Struggles ?
I dint have access to any ground as there is no ground in my district so I had to run on the road near my house. I used to run bare foot, it was extremely difficult to train in those days. I didn’t even have a coach to guide me ,nor did I have a diet plan. Diet plan was a luxury, I could not dream of as there were times when we as a family ate one meal a day as we could not afford to eat multiple meals.
Being a girl I faced a lot of issues as when I started to run on the roads in the district, the people in the village started criticizing me they said “Running Karake, Kya Kar legee”
What is there in running ? Just study well and get a good job for your future. Nobody in my village had any knowledge about athletics which was a problem for me.
As mentioned,I had no coach, no facilities, no trainer and my father earned 200 rupees per month. I thought running would be good way to get job and earn money for the family while representing our country.
Who is your coach now ?
Sir N Ramesh has been my coach since 2012.
Who supported you ?
My sister was always there for me. My mother also supported me as they already know what I was getting into. My sister excelled at sports and secured a job because of her victories.
Who is your Inspiration ?
No one. I feel that whatever I do should be good and more importantly good for my country. My aim is to make India proud.
I believe in people who supported me in my difficult days when, I dint have anything because in good times everyone supports you but in your difficult times very few do.
When I had started running and I needed money, few supported me at that time. Only Dr supported me, got me shoes and nutrition and is still helping me in my journey.
Why do you feel there is less viewership in Athletics ?
The Government has not promoted Athletics as much as they should have. All team games get way more support as compared to individual sports.
‘’If you see any team sports they go on for a lot of time,friends and family sit together and enjoy these games but in athletics the race gets over in about 10 seconds.Even the longest running events get over in about 8-9 minutes. One does not even get time to see the race properly especially in the sprinting events. “By the time you wash your hands, the games over’’.
Future plans in athletics
Athletics has made my life and has shown me the way forward. My families situation changed after my performance, I had a dream to build a house for my family, I have been able to fulfil that dream only because of sports.
I have been performing consistently and I will continue till my body allows me to, but my aim is to get a medal in the Olympics. I also plan on to make an academy for athletes in the future. I want to make this academy so that in the young athletes don’t face the same struggles that I faced during my initial days.
All athletes who don’t have enough money but are motivated, talented and are willing to work hard. I will train them and build their future.
Should athletes should get reservation ?
In Orissa all sports person get preference in all school and Colleges. The government is working towards new policies to help Athletes in the education sector.
Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, a deemed university in Bhubaneswar gives free Education to all Athletes who have achieved enough in sports.
I have currently been given a job by Orissa Government while I presume my law studies. This would have not been possible without sports hence I feel sports reservation important in India.
Her message to all the Athletes
Before I say anything to my young athletes, I want to reach out to the parents. Some people used to say that girls should stay at home but now with Government ‘s movements like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao are really helping women do what they want to in their life. Earlier when I used to compete five girls used to come, now more 100 girls come to compete. Now people have started to feel that the girls can actually do something. I hope parents want their children to be a doctors, engineers, or business man but also professional athletes, that a girl child can do everything that a boy child can do. I hope there is a change in the mindset. The Government and the Media are promoting sports and times are changing. My message to the athletes is that you will have to work hard and nothing is going to come easy in Athletics .The age 19 to 25 are the peak years of any athletes life, all athletes should push them self and perform in the best of their capacity in these years.
National Level Athlete
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