It’s almost a year since Dutee Chand has been working on perfecting a tweak to her running technique, under the watchful eye of coach Nagpuri Ramesh.
The 23-year-old’s efforts have helped her make significant improvements in her sprint timings and Friday’s national record-breaking run was one such instance. The Odisha runner re-wrote her own 100m national mark of 11.26s with a 11.22s run in the semifinals of the Senior Open National Championships in Ranchi. She returned to win the gold medal clocking 11.25s.
Ramesh points out that the most significant change the runner has made is in the way she tackles the first 30 metres of the race. The key is to “stay as low to the ground” as possible in the initial phase of the sprint. According to the seasoned Sports Authority of India coach, most top runners maintain the forward lean position till the first 30 metres but Dutee had the habit of getting upright within the first 15-20 metres itself, hindering her acceleration.
“The closer you are to the ground, the better the acceleration. It’s as simple as that. If you look at her older races, after the initial lean she would switch to the upright posture much earlier than other competitors. I noticed this and had a word with her. So we devised a training technique to rectify the flaw and have made huge progress. Today’s result proves it,” a joyous Ramesh told The Indian Express.
Dutee has always had an explosive start but not pacing the lean perfectly was denying her better timings. When Ramesh approached her with this feedback in September last year, she knew back-breaking training was coming her way. Ramesh felt that the best way to sustain the lean position and improve acceleration was by focusing a great deal on resistance running — a training method widely used across all sports. Dutee uses a 10-kilogram weight attached to a harness on her shoulders as resistance. She does the intense workout twice a week now, a change from the earlier once-a-week routine.
“When you have to pull weights, you naturally lean forward to get as much momentum as possible. This high-intensity training strengthens the ankles and calves which leads to better strides,” explained Ramesh.
Dutee’s gold-winning effort in Ranchi has helped her brush off the disappointment of not being able to make it to the semifinals of the recent World Championships in Doha. It has also instilled in her the confidence of achieving the Olympic qualification mark of 11.15s.
“All runners keep making minor changes to their techniques. I started running barefoot at a riverbank back home in Odisha. I began running just to secure a government job and help my family lead a better life. I had no clue about all these techniques back then but I have learnt quickly,” Dutee told The Indian Express after her triumph.
She feels that runners should constantly update their training methodology as well and the Doha Worlds was an eye-opener for her. Her “good friend” and Jamaican sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce too gave her a few tips.
“In India, you warm up 20 minutes before the race but I saw Shelly-Ann warm up for two hours for a race that barely lasts 11 seconds. I have picked that up from Shelly-Ann this time. She is a good friend and whenever I meet her at any event, she comes up to me to have a chat. There’s so much to learn,” Dutee said.
Coach Ramesh believes Dutee is on the cusp of qualifying for Tokyo and one good race is all she needs.
“By February or March next year, she will definitely qualify for the Games. We have missed our previous personal deadlines but then she is not a machine,” he said.
PTI adds: Dutee’s state-mate Amiya Kumar Malik, who has been struggling for rhythm the whole season, won the bragging rights as the fastest man at the National Open.He won the men’s 100m in 10.46 seconds, finishing a hundredth of a second ahead of Malaysia’s Jonathan AnakNyepa. Gurindervir Singh (Punjab) took home the bronze medal by a margin of 0.0044 seconds from team-mate Harjit Singh.MP Jabir rewrote the men’s 400m hurdles meet record, winning the final in 49.41 seconds.
He improved on the mark of 49.67 seconds set by Dharun Ayyasamy (Tamil Nadu) last year. Dharun himself, running only his third hurdles race after recovering from a shin injury, will be pleased that he clocked 49.50 seconds for second place, leaving T Santhosh Kumar (Services) in third place.