The only time Dutee Chand is under the glare of so many camera flashbulbs is when she is crossing the finish line on an athletics track during a major international event. Friday was different. Having just landed from Jakarta a few hours ago, Dutee faced hordes of camerapersons and photographers asking her to wear and kiss her two silver medals time and again. Flashing the smile of a champion, the 22-year-old obliged happily.”This is my moment, this is what I have been waiting for so long. I can’t express my happiness right now. I have been rewarded for my hard work, finally,” she tells India Today.It was indeed a very special moment for the young athlete from Orissa. She had missed two consecutive Commonwealth Games and the Jakarta Asian Games turned into a make-or-break opportunity for her career.ASIAN GAMES 2018 FULL COVERAGE | MEDALS”I could not make it to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this year as the qualifying mark of 11.15 was too high to achieve. I was very disappointed when others went and I had to stay back. In 2014 Glasgow Games too I was thrown out of the team due to the gender row. This time I got a chance but could not qualify. So, I was extremely dejected and negative thoughts started to creep in. That is when my coach Ramesh Sir asked me to prepare for the Asian Games. He said I could win medals there. I didn’t believe him first but then gradually started training hard. From early morning till late evening, I had as many as six training sessions daily in the four months leading to these Asian Games and the result is in front of you,” she exults clutching her two medals tightly.advertisementDutee’s road to glory had many pit stops. Long before she made India proud and trended on Twitter after making history in Indonesia, there were countless dark nights when she nearly bid goodbye to athletics after undergoing the pain of ‘humiliating’ gender tests.READ – Dutee Chand ends 16-year wait for India with silver in 200m”When I was thrown out of the Indian team because of the international federation’s hyperandrogenism policy, not many people knew what it actually was. Everyone relates it to gender. I was told that I am not a girl after failing a gender verification test. But I was a female athlete with naturally elevated testosterone level. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) didn’t allow me to stay in their hostel after I was chucked out of the Indian team in 2014. I was not even allowed to train in their stadiums as they said I have failed the gender test. I was told I am a man. Things started to fall in place when people understood the entire issue and I filed a case in The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland through my 10-member legal team, the cost of which was borne by the state and union government. After CAS verdict, I requested the then SAI head to allow me to train in Hyderabad at (Pullela) Gopichand’s academy. I am not bothered about any rule change now. The judgment in my case was clear so I am not affected. I have already had a 10-year career and can only prolong it more by five-six years so whatever happens later, I am not concerned at all.”READ – Dutee Chand wins silver in women’s 100m raceDutee’s journey from a sleepy, remote Orissa village to capturing the world stage could well turn into a hit Bollywood biopic one day.”People do not have much to do in my small village Chaka Gopalpur in Orissa except for making cloth. My parents wanted to have a boy child so that is how we six sisters were born. My father found it too difficult to run the house but then my didi got a job in police and she guided me towards running so that I can also get a naukri one day. I am very happy that country’s all major records are now in my name – from junior to the senior level – including that of 100m which was first held by PT Usha and then Rachita Mistry. I am more happy that after Usha didi, I am the first one to grab two medals at the Asian Games,” she says.READ – Could have done better with government support: Dutee ChandRight now though, for the next few weeks at least, as the prize money and accolades pour in, Dutee’s entire focus will be on re-building her village house.advertisement”My house is still not pucca. Only a little bit of work has been done from inside otherwise it is still the same with mud walls. Now that CM sahab (Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik) has announced prize money for me, we will re-build it. I will start training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a few months. My aim is to win an Olympic gold one day though these (holding the two silver medals), aren’t anyway less than that,” she says before rushing to the Delhi airport to catch a flight to Bhubaneswar.”I have to meet the CM in the evening,” she says excitedly.The prize-money cheque is waiting to be collected by Dutee and so are the much-needed repairs at her village home.
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