India’s Dutee Chand sprints to second straight Olympics, out and determined

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Asian Games - Day 8
Dutee Chand, shown here celebrating a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games has earned a second straight Olympic bid. She will compete at both 100 meters and 200 meters in Tokyo | Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Dutee Chand, the 2019 World University Games 100-meter champ, brings her fighting spirit and improving times to Tokyo.

Since coming out amid controversy in her homeland in 2019, Indian sprint specialist Dutee Chand has been on an impressive surge.

Two months after coming out as lesbian, the law student stormed out of the blocks of the 100 meters to win India’s first World University Games gold medal. Since then, she has broken India’s national record at 100 meters twice, the second coming after a long post-pandemic layoff.

The Times of India reported July 1 that World Athletics confirmed Chand’s national record-breaking 11.17 effort at the Indian Grand Prix meet at Patiala, clinching a wild card spot in the event in Tokyo. The time was .02 short of the Olympic automatic qualifying mark, but fast enough to place her 47th in the current world rankings at 100 meters, which opened the door to the spot in the 100 meter heats.

She also gained a spot at 200 meters due to her world ranking, currently at 59th in the most up-to-date standings from World Athletics.

“It’s every athlete’s dream to compete at the Olympics,” Chand told the Times of India. “I am very fortunate to compete in two successive Olympics.”

Olympic Games 2016 Athletic, Track and Field Photo by Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images
Chand (center) finished seventh in her first-round heat in Rio in 2016. She’s run over a half-second faster since then and says her goal is to pull off a golden upset in Tokyo

The next focus is to improve on her performance from the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Five years ago she failed to get out of the heats in an Olympics that came at the end of a long fight over her right to run.

In 2014, she was banned by World Athletics due to the governing body’s policy regarding hyperandrogenism. Chand naturally produces a higher level of testosterone than was considered “normal” for an athlete in the women’s category by the world governing body.

Chand fought World Athletics and her nation’s governing body for track and field with a groundswell of support over the rule and the curtailment of her human rights in the process. She took both to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won in court in June 2015.

That same will to fight has powered her improvement from an 11.69 performance then to a national record 11.17 now, putting her in a position to possibly reach the semifinals or further in Tokyo. Such performances would be in line with the goals for these Games she set in Vogue India in 2019.

“My ultimate aim is to bring home the gold medal for India in the Tokyo Olympics,” Chand said. Making the semifinals would be a necessary step.

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