Sprinter Dutee Chand to miss out Olympic qualifying events in Germany from March 2 due to the COVID-19 pandemic gripping Europe. It is a great deal for the fastest woman of India to qualify for the Olympics and make her country proud. However, for now, she has paused her travel plans because of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 24-year-old Dutee was training to take part in Olympic qualifying events in Germany from March 2. “I was to go for a training-cum-competition stint in Germany from March 2. I was planning to run in some quality competitions in Europe and hoping to qualify for the Olympics. But all my plans fell apart due to this coronavirus,” Dutee told PTI from Patiala.
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All travel plans cancelled
Dutee’s best in the 200m came in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta where she ran 23s in the semifinal and went on to win the silver in the final. She is still 0.02 seconds slower than the qualification mark for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been set at 22.80. So she is focused only on 100m for now. “I have got the visa and other travel documents and was ready to go to Germany. But suddenly I got the message from the training base in Germany that I should not come due to the spread of coronavirus. I am very disappointed,” said the national record holder 100m sprinter. She won a silver each in both 100m and 200m in the 2018 Asian Games.
Asked how confident she is about qualifying for Tokyo Olympics scheduled for July-August, Dutee said, “I don’t know. I am worried that I may not qualify for the Olympics.”
Since 2018, Dutee has gone from 11.30 seconds to 11.29 seconds and finally 11.26 seconds in April last year.
“It is very tough to qualify for the Olympics, the qualification mark is 11.15 seconds. You get good competitors in Europe and that pushes up your timing. Here only five athletes are taking part in 100m (in Indian GP). Competition is not much here,” said Dutee, who has a personal best of 11.22 secs in 100m.
She broke the national record in 100-meter sprint heats. At the National Open Athletics Championships in Ranchi in October last year, Dutee 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 in 100m.
Hoping for the best now
Dutee is hoping that the situation improves very fast. “I know the situation is bad and I may not get any race in Europe. But I am still hoping. Now I have these Indian GP series and the Federation Cup (in Patiala next month) to try and qualify for Olympics. Let us see.”
Talking about the threat of coronavirus she emphasised on maintaining good hand hygiene and said, “The situation is bad. I am not going out other than for training, not doing any other non-essential things as you can get the virus. I am training hard also as I cannot stop doing that whether there is coronavirus or not. I am maintaining good hygiene, not having outside food, washing hands frequently. But I cannot use sanitisers all the time while training. Hope this situation is over fast in India and in the world.”
Feature Image Credit: The Hindu