A little less than a year since she was dropped from the Indian athletics team for the Commonwealth Games, Dutee Chand might be able compete in an international event – the Asian Championships – once again. On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland specifically allowed Chand to take part in the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China, from June 3, pending a final decision on her appeal against IAAF’s hyperandrogenism policy.
While permission may have been granted, competing will not be an easy task. Ever since she was first barred by the Athletics Federation of India, Chand hasn’t been able to train with any sort of consistency. After months in limbo, Chand had been permitted by CAS last December to compete in domestic events. She had subsequently won a gold and bronze in the 100 and 200m in the National Games in January this year.
Coach N Ramesh with whom Chand has been training in Hyderabad admits the Asian Championships will be a harder challenge. “We don’t have a lot of time for the Asian Championships and its going to be hard to compete for a medal. Our first goal will have to be to meet the qualifying standard at the Federation Cup in Mangalore in May,” reckons Ramesh.
The qualification standards will likely be the bronze medal mark (11.63 seconds in the 100m and 23.82seconds in the 200m — a mark incidentally set by Chand herself) from the 2013 Asian Championships in Pune. At the National Games in Thiruvananthapuram, Chand recorded a time of 11.76 in the 100m and 24.56 in the 200m.
While he only has a limited period in which to prepare the athlete, Ramesh says what works to Chand’s advantage is that she is a sprinter.
“Speed is something that doesn’t leave your body for a few months. On the other hand endurance and strength falls away very quickly. So when you have to take a lot of breaks between training, you have to focus on strength and endurance. When Dutee was preparing for the National Games, we mostly focused on the drills for strength and improving endurance mixed with a few days of speed training,” says Ramesh.
What also gives him hope is the fact that Chand has been able to find a second wind running in competition. “When we had trained before the National Games, she was giving a best time of around 11.85 or 11.86. But when she got onto the track at the National Games she was able to win the gold with 11.76 seconds,” says Ramesh.
This has always been the case for Chand. “Even in the starting of her career, just after she won the bronze in the Asian Championships, she had to go to Ukraine for the Junior World Championships. Its almost impossible for an athlete to recover between competitions in such a short time. But Dutee managed one of her best performances over there (she became the first Indian to make the 100m final at a global event). That is the kind of athlete she is,” he says.
With Chand in Switzerland for the CAS hearing, Ramesh has asked the athlete to train as much as possible. “I have asked her to practice the ABC drills (the three basic elements of sprinting form comprising high knees, exaggerated leg extensions and butt kicks).” he says.
Ramesh however adds that with little time to waste, Chand will have to train harder than usual. “Before the National Games also we had to compress the kind of training we did. So I was afraid she might pick up an injury but both of us decided that we had to take that kind of risk because we had to give the Games our best shot. Now for the Asian Championships we have to take the same chance,” he says.
The 19-year-old Chand was disqualified in July last year by the AFI as per IAAF’s hyperandrogenism policy after tests revealed her body produced natural levels of testosterone above permissible range.