Double Asian Games silver medallist sprinter Dutee Chand suffered a minor jolt in her quest to polish skills to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Games as an indoor track event in Almaty, Kazakhstan, was cancelled at the eleventh hour this month.
The national record holder in 100m sprinter was aiming for a robust 2021 season with a 60m indoor competition on January 29, but a last-minute cancellation due to Covid pandemic made her reschedule her training for domestic competitions starting February 18 in Patiala. The 60m dash is not an Olympic event.
“I couldn’t compete in other indoor meets in Europe due to seven days quarantine guideline for athletes from India. Since I don’t face tough competition on the home soil, races in Europe would have given a good start to the season,” the 25 year old athlete told IANS.
Dutee had clinched bronze in the 60m dash with a time of 7.22 seconds at the 2016 Asian Indoor event. The same year she also reached the semi-finals of the World Indoor Championships.
The Indian outdoor season starts with Indian Grand Prix from February 18 in Patiala. “It will be a sort of warm up event ahead of the Federation Cup in March,” pointed out Dutee, who is sponsored by the Odisha government.
Dutee’s personal best and national record in 100m dash is 11.22 seconds clocked in 2019 in Ranchi. The 2021 Tokyo Olympic qualification time is 11.15 secs, and it means that she will have to improve quickly for the July 23-August 8 Games.
“On paper, it looks easy but it’s hard to improve fraction of seconds. After March, I will see if the situation gets better in Europe and then I will try to figure out whether I would be able to compete there or not. Tough competition is the only way forward,” she said.
As per the World Athletics qualification rules, the top 50 ranked athletes would get berths in the Olympics in case they are not able to meet the qualification time. “High quality competition in Europe will not only enable me to inch closer to qualification time, but will improve her global rankings,” she said.