Dutee Chand turns 25! A Look At Her Extraordinary Journey

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Happy Birthday Dutee Chand! Renowned Indian sprinter Dutee Chand turns 25 today! Chand is a sheer inspiration to look up to.

The current champion in the women’s 100 metres sprint race has continued to inspire people not only in the field of sports, but also by coming out as a queer person. A bold, powerful and strong-willed lady, she is vocal about women-oriented issues. 

Early Life

Born into a family of weavers in Odisha, she started running when she was just four. Her older sister Saraswati Chand was her inspiration, who competed in running at state level. However, Dutee still had to initially struggle during her training as she used to train barefoot.

National Champion Athlete

Dutee became a national champion in the under-18 category in 2012. She clocked 11.2 seconds in the 100 metres event. Since then, she has bagged a winning streak for India at various international platforms.

She won the bronze in the ‘Women’s 200 metres event’ at the Asian Athletics Championships 2013, held at Pune. In the same year, she also became the first Indian to reach the finals of global 100 metres athletics at 2013 World Youth Championships. In fact, Dutee is the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the Women’s 100 metres event at the Summer Olympic Games. She won the silver medal in women’s 100 m at the 2018 Asian Games, bringing home the first medal in this event since 1998. Moreover, she also won another silver medal in the 200 m category there.

In 2019, she became the first Indian sprinter to win gold at the Universiade, a premier international multi-sport event, organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation. Dutee has broken her own records all along every year in the subsequent championships across the world. Dutee Chand turns 25 today

She is now training herself for the next international tournaments such as Tokyo Olympics 2021.

Coming Out Of Closet

Dutee has empowered LGBTQIA+ community by embracing her sexuality in spite of facing threat of expulsion from her family. She is the first-ever Indian sportsperson to openly admit of being in a same-sex relationship.  

Although her parents did not object to her relationship outright, her eldest sister was totally against her relationship. She even threatened to banish her from the family and to send her to jail. Read more about it here.

The athlete openly celebrated the auspicious Savitri Brata with her partner in May 2020.

Here are a few quotes by the inspirational athlete which reflect the strength and boldness in her:

On accepting her sexuality

“For all who are in love but afraid of the world you must show courage because the world has always taken time to accept all good things.”

“I believe in individual freedom and right to decide how and with whom I will live my life.”

“One may fall in love anytime and with anyone. One does not decide that based on caste, religion or gender.”

On decriminalisation of homosexuality

“I really value and appreciate Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju’s contribution in spearheading the historic judgement of decriminalisation of Section 377 in India. Their relentless efforts and fight against the discrimination and violence faced by the LGBTQ community in India was a ray of hope for many of us.”

About her family

“Every family goes through ups and downs. You may want a relationship with someone, which your family may not approve of but they don’t stop loving you.”

On Animal abuse

“Animals in the streets have tough lives, so it’s up to all of us to speak out if we ever witness them being abused.”

“My friends at PeTA India and I encourage everyone to treat animals with kindness and respect, just as we all want to be treated every day.”

On her struggle 

“I’ve gone through a lot in my life, I have seen a lot of struggles and difficulties. I have braved it all and won medals for my country with my determination.”

“My parents used to struggle to put food on our plates. Whatever little money they got, we had to make do with it.”

About her ambitions

“I think people will see my medals and my performance for my country and not what I do off the field. They like me because I win for the country and I will continue to do so.”

“I think I am a sportsperson. A lot of people look up to me, so I have the responsibility to set the right example for them.”

On Sports and aspiring sportspersons

“My dream is to see athletes also getting the same recognition, fame, success and money as cricketers, footballers and hockey players get in India.”

“The kids who take up athletics actually come from modest to poor backgrounds. They make it on their own steam; some of them don’t even have the basic means like shoes and enough food to eat.”

“I would urge youngsters to pick up a sport while pursuing your studies as it will keep you fit and you could make your country proud in the field of sports.”