NEW DELHI: On January 1, 2018, Dutee Chand’s best in 100m stood at 11.30s, also a national record. Since then, she has been lowering both drip by drip. In June 2018, she set a new mark of 11.29s. At Asian Championships last April, she lowered that further: 11.26s.
At the 59th National Open Championships in Ranchi on Friday, she raced to a new best of 11.22s in the first semifinal. Even though it’s still some way short of the 2020 Olympics qualifying time (11.15s), the 23-year-old has showed that that cut-off is an attainable mark.
What is even more impressive is that the four-hundredths of a second that she shaved off on Friday is her single biggest one-time improvement across this distance in the last three years. After the final, when she clocked 11.25s to win the event, it was surprising to hear her say that "this is one of my best races in the 100m". "The race was really good," she told this daily.
According to her, the stars aligned almost perfectly in the semifinal. Interestingly, she felt she could have been even faster. "I was feeling good. The weather here was also favourable. Most of it also depends on luck. I felt that my muscles weren’t tightening and that’s always a positive sign. If I run the semifinal again, maybe I will go a touch faster than my new mark, who knows? It also helped that my support staff is here. I am also used to this track... So all these things helped me," she said.
Dutee said she wasn’t able to do all that well at World Championships in Doha because of tightness. But all that is in the past now as she eyes a new challenge. "My aim now is try and qualify for the Olympics. I have some foreign assignments lined up... Let me see how it works out," she said. In other words, Dutee’s real challenge is to find those seven-hundredths of a second from somewhere.