Hyderabad: Mission accomplished! The indomitable Dutee Chand ran a dream race to win the gold medal in the World University Games (WUG) in Napoli in Italy on Tuesday night. She clocked an incredible 11.32 seconds to become the first Indian woman to win a gold in WUG. “I had dreamt of winning a medal at a world meet and with God’s grace, I have won a gold medal,’’ Dutee told Telangana Today from Napoli.
Although the competition was tough, Dutee never lost hope, despite the fact that she was dragged into a controversy over her announcement of being gay. “It hurt me a lot when there were unwarranted remarks against me. But I remained focused and I was determined to win a medal in this Games. God has been kind to me and he answered my prayers.’’
The 23-year-old star athlete admitted that she was very nervous when she entered the strong field which had competitors winning the race in 11.05 seconds. “I was expecting the challenge from the US and German athletes, who were strong and powerful. Some of the athletes had a good timing of 11.03 seconds. I had fifth best timings of 11.26s so I thought that winning a bronze medal would be a great achievement. I never dreamt that I would win a gold medal. The gold did surprise me.’’
On the final, Dutee pointed out that the start was good. “When I was near the 80-metre mark, I realised that I was in the lead. I gave everything in the last 20 metres and I was so happy that I had won the gold in 11.32s. I closed my eyes and had tears in my eyes. I was very happy when the national flag was hoisted. It was one of most emotional moments of my career so far. It is not easy to win a medal, that too a gold, in a World meet. In fact, winning a medal in World meet was my big dream, particularly after Hima Das won a gold in the junior world athletics meet. That was a big motivational factor for me.’’
The athlete star said she began growing in confidence to win a medal after her run in the semifinals. “When I emerged winner in the semifinals, I got hopes that I would win a medal. To be honest, I was very nervous as I was participating in a world competition which had some very good athletes. I looked like a novice in front of these big athletes, who had more experience and had better facilities. The poor run in the final of the Asian Championship in Qatar also came back to haunt me in the finals. So I was a bit edgy. Luckily, I got into a good rhythm.’’
Dutee revealed that the controversies made her very determined to prove the detractors wrong. “These controversies have happened for no fault of mine. They have pointed fingers towards me even though it was not my mistake. Take the case of hyperandrogenism, it was not my fault. They made me the villain and I had to fight my way out. And now, this gay issue, it is my personal life and why should people play dirty with me. I’m confident one day I would win the hearts of the people through my achievements.’’
As for reasons for shifting from Hyderabad to her home town Bhubaneshwar, Dutee said it because of the recent controversy. “I requested Ramesh (sir) to come over to my place. Yes, it was tough and difficult to focus. But thanks to Ramesh sir, Siba sir and the physios, I could train very hard.
“I am happy to become the first girl ever to win a Gold for India in World university Games. I dedicate this medal to my University KIIT and its founder Prof Samantaji. He stood with me during my bad days, people of Odisha and thank CM Naveen Pattanaikji for all his support. At the end, I thank my parents and my coach Ramesh sir, Siba sir for all their blessings.’’
Dutee said her top priority would be to qualify and win a medal in next year’s Olympics in Tokyo. “It needs a lot of hard work and remember the road to Tokyo will be very tough but achievable. I have the confidence particularly after my run in Napoli. There was always a fear factor and that is not there anymore.’’
The Indian athlete hoped that she would be able to train in Europe so that she can improve her timing. “I feel that I need to train and run in top competitions in Europe. The 100 metre event is a royal and highly technical event. Running and training there would give me exposure that would help me in a big way. I hope I get sponsors to train in Europe. When the 400 metres Indian athletes train in Europe, I think I should also get the same facilities. I can definitely give better results,’’ she signed off.