Sprinter Dutee Chand has come back to a synthetic track for the first time in two months. As she resumes outdoor training, she feels lonely on the track as the only athlete to start training after relaxation in lockdown guidelines. The sprinter says she feels the “eerie silence” at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The 24-year-old Dutee began outdoor training on Monday after the Odisha government gave her permission.

“After two months, I am training outdoors and it is a very nice feeling to experience the air while running on the track. For a track athlete, there is no better feeling than this. At the same time I am also experiencing an unusual feeling,” Dutee told PTI.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dutee Chand is the lone athlete to resume outdoor training, says it will take two months to get her body in ‘full speed’.
  • The 24-year-old Dutee started training after the Odisha government gave permission as per relaxed guidelines for COVID-19 lockdown’s fourth phase.
  • Her coach Ramesh is currently at his home in Hyderabad and he cannot be with Dutee.

The top sprinter was prepping in Patiala for Indian Grand Prix on March 20 but the event got cancelled. Since then quarantined at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Dutee was hardly training other than using the gym there. “Normally, there are a lot of trainees at the hostels inside the Kalinga Stadium complex but all of them have left for home due to this pandemic. So, I am the only one training at such a big stadium. It is unusual, to experience this eerie silence,” said the Asian Games silver-medallist in 100m and 200m.

READ: Dutee Chand Faces Backlash From Family Over Same Sex Relationship

Not running on the 100m track yet

She claims that it will take two months to get her body in full speed. “The muscles are tight now, so I am just loosening them up. I have to wake up my muscles. It will take at least two months to be in full speed,” she said. “My coach (N Ramesh) is on video call during my training and he tells me what to do and I follow his instructions. The tougher training drills like 1km repeat run will take some time and I cannot do it soon. If I do that I will get injured. I have no coach and no physio with me, so I have to be careful,” she explained.

Keeping Tokyo dream alive

The qualification process is suspended by World Athletics till the end of the year. Dutee, who is yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, said, “I have started training but there is uncertainty all around. I will take part in the national events planned by the AFI in September-October. These events are also tentative.”

“The Olympic qualification period is suspended till the end of this season and there is no point going all out. I want to qualify for the Olympics as soon as possible next year. After that, I want to do my best in the Games in Tokyo.”

How fast Dutee is now

Dutee broke the national record in 100-meter sprint heats. At the National Open Athletics Championships in Ranchi in October last year, she bettered her personal best with a timing of 11.22 seconds. She went on to win a gold in the finals. Her previous national record was 11.26 seconds, which means she is now 0.04 seconds faster than she was at the Asian Athletics Championships in April last year. She needs to cut it to 11.15 seconds, the qualifying mark for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

No Indian athlete has ever achieved 11.15s at 100m. Can Dutee qualify for Tokyo 2021? We will have to wait and watch.

Picture Credit: Indiawest.com

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