Crowdfunding to help Odisha sprinter Dutee train for Olympics

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 25:

As the old saying goes, if there is a will, there is a way. At least, it is proving to be true in case of Odisha sprinter Dutee Chand, who returned to the track recently after being dropped from the Indian contingent for failing the gender test in 2014.

She is aspiring to qualify for Rio Olympics and needs financial help in order to train abroad. To support her irrepressible will, a crowd-funding campaign has been initiated where anyone who wishes fund her training can donate online. Besides, there are rewards and autographed memorabilia on the offer for the donors!

The campaign is being supported by Nurturing Excellence in Sports Trust (NEST) and Sportskeeda. Bollywood starlet Gul Panag and former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah were also seen helping to spread the word on social media platforms.

As we write this report, 14 contributors have donated Rs 36,400. She needs about 32 Lakh for her four month long training.

Below mentioned is the appeal from Dutee as published in www.bitgiving.com.

Pic Courtesy: https://www.bitgiving.com/DuteeChand
Pic Courtesy: https://www.bitgiving.com/DuteeChand

I am a 19 year old sprinter from Orissa. I participate in the 100m and 200m categories, with personal best timings of 11.62s and 23.57s respectively. I am Dutee Chand.

As a young, underprivileged teenager, I was born to an extremely poor family of weavers who barely survived life’s daily battles. Inspired by my sister’s success as a state level runner, I saw athletics as the key for my family to move out of the financial constraints.

In 2013, I became the first Indian to reach the final of an international sprints event, the IAAF World Youth Championships, and became the senior national champion in 100m and 200m that same year. In May 2014, I broke the 14-year-old national junior record in 100m by a large margin. I was all set to take the international arena by storm, and even clinched two Gold medals at the Asian Junior Athletics Championship in Taipei. Ready to do my best at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, I was taken off the Indian contingent a week before the Games, after allegedly, ‘failing’ the gender test as prescribed by the IAAF.

It was revealed that my body produced a level of testosterone that was naturally found in males. Resultantly, I was prohibited to compete as a female athlete which was the stance taken by the IAAF, the international governing body of athletics and later by the International Olympic Committee as well. There had been numerous cases globally of such biological racism where female athletes had been barred from contesting in women’s events. They could either quit the sport and go back to normal lives, or undergo ‘gender treatment’ to help them come back to the tracks. I, however, took the bold step of taking my case to the Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS) as I firmly believed that I was not at fault. My efforts over the last 12 months were rewarded when the CAS passed a historic verdict, clearing me to compete in both national and international events as a female athlete and also suspended the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism laws for a period of 2 years.

“I know people started suspecting whether I was a woman or a man. My friends asked me what’s wrong with my body. They started to avoid me. During training, where girls used to share rooms, I was kept separately.”

My case is a special one not only on patriotic, but on universal humanitarian grounds. However, the very fabric of my existence was shaken as the international governing body, the IAAF questioned if I was at all a ‘woman’.  For someone as young as me, to be challenged on something as personal as my gender in light of the international media, was perhaps the worst thing that could have happened. The extreme humiliation my family and I had to undergo is unbelievable, as many in my own village took to name calling and insulting my parents.

When my ban was effectively being revoked in July, 2015, it has taken me no time to come close to my best form. Winning 2 Gold medals at the Junior Federation cup in August, and improving it further by winning 3 Gold medals at the Open National Athletics Championships, I know that nothing can stop me now from reaching my ultimate dream; to represent India at the Olympic Games. Had I not been subjected to the tremendous emotional and social trauma of the last 10 months, I could have been in contention for a medal, however at the present moment, I find myself in a very daunting situation where I am only a few milliseconds away from qualifying for the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the lack of funds is going to stop me from making the final push to break the qualification barrier in both the 100m and 200m events.

With Nurturing Excellence in Sports Trust (NEST) and Sportskeeda supporting my campaign, and helping me train at the Chula Vista Olympic Training centre in the United States for a period of 4 months leading up to the Rio Games, I attempt to qualify for the Olympics and live up to the promising start I had made to my career.

I look forward to all your support.

Dutee Chand

*The post originally appeared here. One can also fund her campaign using this link.