Dutee Chand’s comeback plans hit after warm-up meet in Almaty cancelled

Dutee Chand needs to improve on her personal best time of 11.22 seconds in 100m to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The benchmark is 11.15 seconds.

By Utathya Nag

India’s premier 100m sprinter Dutee Chand’s plans to return to action after a year ravaged by COVID received a jolt when an indoor track event in Almaty, Kazakhstan was cancelled at the last moment.

Dutee Chand was planning to start 2021 by running the 60m dash, a non-Olympic event, at the Almaty meet. The two-time Asian Games silver medallist had clinched bronze in the event in 2016 before reaching the semi-finals of the World Indoor Championships that year.

Dutee had planned to compete in Almaty as a warm-up to the Indian outdoor season that gets underway later this month. Dutee's last Indian meet was at the Khelo India University Games.

“I couldn’t compete in other indoor meets in Europe due to the seven days quarantine guideline for athletes from India. Since I don’t face tough competition on the home soil, races in Europe would have given a good start to the season,” Dutee told the IANS.

Dutee will now focus on the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala, starting February 18.

“It will be a sort of warm-up event ahead of the Federation Cup in March,” pointed out Dutee, who holds the women’s national record for 100m.

Dutee had clocked 11.22 seconds in 100m at the 59th National Open Championships in Ranchi in October 2019. The 2021 Olympics qualification time is 11.15 seconds. 

“On paper, it looks easy but it’s hard to improve by fractions of seconds,” Dutee said.

The 25-year-old sprinter also revealed that she will explore her options to compete in Europe post-March to increase her qualification chances.

The women’s 100m event at Tokyo Olympics allows 56 entries. Twenty-nine sprinters have already qualified.

“After March, I will see if the situation gets better in Europe and then I will try to figure out whether I would be able to compete there or not. Tough competition is the only way forward.

“High-quality competition in Europe will not only enable me to inch closer to qualification time but will also improve my global rankings,” she said.