Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has expressed her happiness over winning the Arjuna Award. The prestigious award is another benchmark in the 24-year-old's illustrious career. During a recent interview with PTI, Chand expressed that she hopes her award will help her qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
Dutee Chand is among the 26 Indian athletes who will be honoured with the Arjuna Award by President Ram Nath Kovind. The ceremony will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 crisis on August 29. In 2016, Chand became the first Indian female athlete in 36 years to qualify for the 100-metre event at the Rio Olympics by beating the 11.32 seconds qualifying mark. As Indian athletes are returning to train after a COVID-19-forced hiatus, Chand is positive that the award will boost her chances to make it to the Olympics.
"The Award has come at the right time,” Chand told PTI. She added that any form of "recognition by the government for your performance and achievements always boosts the confidence of an athlete". For next year, the qualifying mark is 11.15 seconds, while Chand's current personal best is 11.22 seconds (2019 National Open Athletics Championships). However, Dutee Chand is determined that she will have "more strength and confidence" this time.
While qualifying will be a difficult task, the Asian Games silver-medallist is training to beat her own record. "It will be tough but I am confident to meet it. This award will give me the boost in my efforts," said the current World University Games 100 metre champion.
Like many other athletes, Chand's outdoor training was put on a hold, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown, Dutee Chand returned to her hometown Odisha from the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala. She trained at home for weeks before resuming outdoor training from May. However, there is still time till Chand is able to resume her intense training with all equipment.
"I don't have a physio, no masseur currently, they cannot be here due to pandemic,” Chand explained. She added that her coach, N Ramesh, instructs her through Whatsapp. "But that is not enough," Chand admitted. As of now, World Athletics have postponed all events for Olympic qualification in December.