New Delhi: Ace sprinter Dutee Chand on Saturday became the first Indian female athlete to qualify for the 100m dash in Olympics in 36 years as she booked a Rio Games berth at the 26th G. Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Twenty-year-old Chand clocked 11.30 seconds in the women’s 100m heats and then ran an even better 11.24 seconds in the finals to win a silver medal in the Kazakhstan Meet too book the Rio Olympics ticket. In the process, Chand bettered her own national record of 11.33 seconds which she set at Federation Cup National Championships in New Delhi in April.
The qualifying mark for the Rio Olympics was set at 11.32 seconds. Chand is the first Indian woman to have qualified for 100 metres race in an Olympics after legendary P.T. Usha competed in the blue-riband event in the 1980 Moscow Games. The Odisha athlete is the first Indian woman athlete to make the cut for an Olympics 100m dash since the qualification system was introduced in the event.
Also read: Dutee and a level playing field
There was no qualification system when Usha took part in the 1980 Olympics. Overall, four Indian women have taken part in the 100m dash in the Olympics—Nilima Ghosh and Mary D’Souza (1952), Mary Leela Rao (1956) and Usha (1980). Chand is the 20th Indian track and field athlete to have qualified for Rio Games.
For Chand, it is a remarkable achievement to qualify for Olympics as she had to fight her way back to an international career by winning a landmark ‘gender’ case last year. She was banned mid-2014 and dropped from the Commonwealth Games as she was found to have a higher level of testosterone (male hormone) than was permissible in a woman athlete, according to the IAAF hyperandrogenism rules.
Chand lost an entire year of training and competition but faced the turmoil bravely and fought the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland. In July last year, in a historic verdict, the CAS partially upheld her appeal and allowed her to resume her career.
“I am really happy to have qualified for the Olympics. It has been a tough year for me. My hard work and that of my coach (N. Ramesh) has paid off,” Dutee Chand said after booking the Rio berth. “I could qualify for the Olympics due to blessings of a lot of people. I want to thank Sports Authority of India, Sports Ministry, Athletics Federation of India for their support. I will continue to work hard and hope to bring a medal for the country,” she added.