Hyderabad: Thanks to Dutee Chand’s silver streak in Asian Games, coach Nagapuri Ramesh has become a household name in Odisha. “She has become a super star in Indian athletics, particularly in her State. She has become a role model for many young athletes in the country and thanks to her big show in Asian Games, I have become an household name in her State,’’ said the Dronacharya awadee.
Basking in glory after Dutee’s historic runs in 100 and 200 metres at the Asiad in Jakarta where she clinched the silver medals, Ramesh said the athlete deserves all the accolades.
“I remember how she endured the pain and mental agony when she was suspended for hyperandrogenism and could not participate in the 2014 Asian Games. She won the case two years later and qualified for the Rio Olympics. Now, the two silver medals in the sprint events is victory for hard work, sincerity and discipline. I salute for her grit. She took the adversities in her strides to win these two silver medals.”
The 22-year-old joined Ramesh in 2014 and he was aware of the challenges ahead. “But I took it as a personal challenge and today it is a great satisfaction for the country. She two silver medals and after 20 years getting a 100 metres medal in Asian Games. She is the third Indian women to win two medals in the Games after PT Usha and Jyotirmoyee Sikdar.”
Ramesh said the road to Jakarta was tough and it was a total team work that enabled Dutee scale new heights. “A lot of planning went into it. We did a lot of visual practice sessions and for the last six months after inter-state, after discussions with (Pullela) Gopichand, we focused into minute details that was the key to success.”
“Thanks to Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS), we got the facilities at the athletic stadium in Gachibowli. The Mytrah Foundation gave us the masseur, physio and assistant coach for training. Then was the diet wherein Gopichand spoke to his mother and enabled Dutee to cook Odisha food and some boiled food that was good for performance. The Telangana Athletics Association or the Athletics Association of India or Sports Authority of India who time and again helped in Dutee’s training sessions. It was a total team work that resulted in Dutee’s success.”
The Warangal-born coach, who was the trainer of Indian hockey team in 2000 Sydney Olympics, said Dutee had to do a lot of sacrifices where she got cut off from rest of the world.
“She just focussed on her training in the last two months, more on recovery. As the sprint events were scheduled for Saturday (heats) and Sunday (semifinals and finals), we prepared accordingly. We usually take rest on Saturday and Sunday. But last four weeks, we changed the training programme such a way we took our rest day on Mondy. Since the finals was in the night at 9 pm on Sunday, we requested the stadium step lights and we practiced, especially running in the cooler breeze.”
Then the big issue was a competition before the Asian Games. ”Even as some of the competed in Europe, I thought the best way would be to run in the Telangana State junior competition which was being held before the Asian Games. I asked Mr Ranga Rao’s permission to allow Dutee to run in the boys under-18 competition. It is simple because the boys under-18 performance and the women’s competition in Asian Games was almost same. It was a tough competition and she came second with a hand timing of 10.80s. It served the purpose as she could get a feel of a competition.
“We had mentors in Pradeep (IIIT registrar) and Srinivas Rao (DRDO project director) who spoke of handling.”
On the event day, she was very cool, according to Ramesh. “The heats went off very well. But the time between semi and final was very tough. In the first semifinal, Chinese girl ran 11.24, Bahrain girl 11.35 in the second semifinal Kazakhstan girl ran 11.42s and another Chinese girl 11.43 same as Dutee. It was anybody’s race in the final. Dutee ran brilliantly to win the silver in 11.32 seconds.
“Bursting with confidence, she simply breezed through in the 200 metres to win in 23 seconds. Dutee always comes good in big competition, particularly in international events. She does it in style as she loves challenges and keeps raising the bar.”
Ramesh said Dutee needs a long rest. “She should savour the success. She did a lot of sacrifice. Olympics is two years away. We are chalking out plans. Our first aim is to better the 11 seconds. We want to keep it simple. We may 2019 we have Asian track and field meet. We may take part in a few international meets. Tokyo weather will be in our mind.’’
Ramesh signed off by saying: Dutee is a biggest gift. I had the privilege to coach her.