Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s ace sprinter Dutee Chand recently scorched the tracks and bettered her own record by clocking 11.29 seconds in the 100m race at the 58th National Inter-state Senior Athletics Championships in Guwahati, Assam.
She has qualified for the Asian Games in 100m and 200m slated for September in Jakarta and is now targeting 11.15 seconds in the 100m race.
In a candid interview with Odisha Bytes, she spoke about her fitness regime, sports and life.
Congratulations Dutee! It will be your maiden Asian Games experience. How are you feeling?
The feeling is definitely amazing. However, the expectations are more now and I have to put in efforts to be faster. I clocked 11.24 in Almaty two years ago, so I can surely do better with my coach Nagapuri Ramesh’s guidance.
How have you been preparing for it?
I usually have daylong training, months before the tournament. I’ll fly to Hyderabad for the Asian Games preparations where there will be sprinting in the morning and swimming and martial arts in the evening.
What about regular days?
There’s not much of a difference. I have to give my best every day, every moment. From the month of October to January, I have endurance training where I run for longer distances and there’s heavy gyming. After that, it gets milder where I work on my speed. Right now, with only two months left for the tournament, I will make sure not to strain my body and work out efficiently.
I have to prepare one whole year for a tournament where I run for merely a few seconds. What one sees on the screen, is months and years of practice.
How do you train your mind not to be restless and stay focused?
Distraction is a normal human tendency, but because sports is my life, I tend to not get carried away. Prayers help me a lot. I keep praying to the Lord for strength and goodwill. Besides, I also follow a regular Yoga regime which keeps my mind calm. When none of this helps, I find refuge in my friends.
How is it like to break a record? Do you also get nervous before such matches?
The feeling is inexplicable because there’s the joy of having brought laurels to your state and fellow mates. Months of hard work seems worth it after that! Nervous, yes. I shiver, my heart beat increases, and I start having this internal conflict if I will be able to do it or not. Due to time constraints though, I don’t dwell on these thoughts and encourage myself. I say to myself that I will give my best, I win the medal or not.
As an athlete, do you follow any specific diet?
It depends on what my academy provides. However, there’s a lot of protein because the body needs active building and recovery agents. We have to eat everything, actually. I take food supplements as well to boost my health.
Who is your inspiration?
I am my own inspiration, I don’t follow anyone. I keep striving to get better and improve my skills.
What is Dutee doing when she is not running or gyming?
My life revolves around sports only, I spend the rest of the time preparing mentally for upcoming tournaments. At times, I can be seen hanging out with my friends.
What do you have to say about Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s effort to declare hockey as a national game?
What he has done is plausible. Hockey has deep roots in our country. I used to think that hockey is the official game. But anyway, I believe that any sport that has been doing well recently should be the national sport. There should not be any biased decision.
What do you have to say about the poor condition of sportspersons deprived of proper nutrition?
See, it depends on who sponsors you. In a game like cricket, there are so many private companies involved, so they get luxurious facilities. One also has to understand that most of the sports in India run on government funds where the budget is limited. Imagine being given Rs 100 every day for your diet. It won’t even be enough for a normal person. Our (central) government needs to look into this.
What are your long-term plans?
I have not really thought much about it but I am looking forward to opening a Sprinting Academy in Odisha to provide a platform for all the budding sprinters from my state.
What would you suggest to upcoming sprinters?
First of all, I would request their parents to not compromise on their child’s health and diet. Give them enough protein, send them to a good coach and support them. Youngsters need to maintain a disciplined and determined regime if they wish to break a record! I suggest going to a sprint coach specifically because school coaches barely know anything about athletics.
Wishing you all the best for the Asian Games Dutee. Odisha will always support you!
Yes, I am blessed to have so many people wishing the best for me. I hope I keep making them proud for as long as I can. I want to thank my state for all the support and request my native folks to pray for me!