THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Before the women’s 100m finals at the University stadium here, Nagpuri Ramesh, coach of Dutee Chand, requested the media not to ask questions to Dutee before the event. The reason was that it may upset her rhythm. For the questions, he knew, wouldn’t be comfortable to handle for the young Odisha athlete.
The Court of Arbitration for Sports has given the dates for her hyperandrogenism case hearing and she was under constant media watch. “It’s a make or break event for her. That’s why the precaution,” said Ramesh. “For the time being, leave her alone in her own world,” he added.
The media half-heartedly complied, and when Dutee lined up for the event, there was a big roar from the pavillion where the athletes and coaches were seated. Seeing her face in the bigscreen, some of the national campers blurted out, ‘Tata Nano’.
Ever since she was gifted a Tata Nano car for winning the tag of individual champion in the 58th School Nationals, that’s her moniker. As the competitors took their warm-up strides, Dutee was unhurried, and strolled towards her starting-block.
Stretching her back a bit, she shook her arms, as if rocking away the nervousness and along with it the bad omens. The gun was then fired, and within ten strides Dutee was in her own world. Though she was flanked by the talented Reshma Sherigar and Merlin K Joseph, it didn’t matter much. After the middle, Dutee lost a bit of pace and Santhini V tried to wheedle through. But Dutee had all the time in the world to beat the Kerala girl by more than one metre. The clock stopped at 11.73 secs, a meet record.
Though this was her first competition after June, 2014, it was certain that the gap and the scandal had little effect on her. “I ran as if this was my first and last race,” she said. “With this win, all the pain and suffering I have put on the backburner.”
Nevertheless, she did counter the allegation that she was taking advantage of a higher level of testosterone in her body, but in her own way. “Elephants are stronger but it’s the horse which wins the race. That’s because the horse wants to win and works harder to achieve the goal,” she signed off.