Wednesday was a bitter-sweet day for Dutee Chand. An hour after she anchored the women’s 4×100 metre relay team, which broke the two-decade old national record, Dutee’s dream of meeting the qualifying standard in the 100 metres for the Olympics suffered a setback.
Her name was included in the start list for the women’s 100 metre finals but as she walked up to the starting blocks she was told that she would have to make way for Chelsea Hayes of the United States. Athletics Federation of India secretary CK Valson said, “We got entry for the women’s 4×100 relay but initially we had not got confirmation for Dutee in the 100 metres individual event. However, we are trying to find out why she was not allowed to run at the last minute after her name appeared in the starting list. I am awaiting a clarification from the technical officials at the event,” Valson said.
For Dutee, who missed qualifying for the Olympics by one-hundreth of a second during last month’s Federation Cup in Delhi, being asked to leave the track was a harrowing experience.
With no clear answers emerging as to why she was told not to run, the athlete was in a state of despair.
“I was going towards the starting blocks when an athlete from USA came and told me that I could not run as she had submitted her entry earlier. I was shown another paper by an official in which my name wasn’t there though I was told that I was included in the starting list. I was told to leave,” Dutee said.
Incidentally, just before the race, the starting list on the competition’s website contained Dutee’s name.
The sprinter said that India’s Ukraine-born sprints coach Dmitry Vinaykin had initially told her that she would get an entry in the individual 100 metres at the IAAF World Challenge but when she reached Beijing her name was not on the list. Dutee then called AFI officials back home, including Valson and Lalit Bhanot, the planning committee chairman, to ask them for push for her inclusion in the 100 metres.
However, her joy was short-lived. “Today I was confident of qualifying for the 100 metres for the Rio Olympics. I had run the anchor leg of the 4×100 metre relay and had nicely warmed up. I need international competitions against top athletes if I am to qualify for the Olympics. It is unfortunate what happened to me and nobody explained to me why I was not allowed to run,” Dutee said.