By Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar: Fresh from a multiple-podium finish at the G Kosanov Memorial meet in Kazakhstan, ace sprinter Dutee Chand is confident of exploiting the home advantage to do an encore at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships slated to begin here on Wednesday.
The five-day event at the Kalinga stadium would continue till July 9.
The Odisha girl is also taking heart from her performance at the 20nd Asian Athletic Championship in Pune four years back, when she had bagged a bronze in the 200 metres event.
“My association with Kalinga Stadium is a long one. I have participated in a number of international events here since July 2006. Besides, there would be good support from the crowd, as I am a local athlete,” the Olympian sprinter told IANS.
She has qualified in three categories in the championship — 100 metres, 200 metres and 4X100 metres relay.
Dutee, the numero uno Indian woman sprinter now, has increased the expectation of winning medals following her stupendous performance last month in Kazakhstan, where she claimed two silvers in the 100 metre and 4X100 relay, and bronze in the 200 metre event.
“I am high on confidence this time. The 2013 championship was my debut in Asian Championships. Since then I have participated in many platforms, including Olympics,” she said.
“I am hoping to win medals this time as well. In other countries, we face difficulties in getting acclimatised to the weather conditions. But this is my home state and I am accustomed to the weather conditions here,” 21-year-old Dutee said.
What has further raised Dutee’s spirits is the guidance of renowned German coach Ralf Eckert, who is now in charge of the sprinters of most the Asian countries, appointed by the International Athletics Federation (IAF).
“Apart from the training given by my coach Nagapuram Ramesh, I got valuable tips from the German coach in Hyderabad. I hope it would improve my timing,” said the sprinter.
Dutee said that she has attended classes by Pradip Kumar Ramchandra, a professor at Hyderabad IIT, on philosophy and motivational methods, and also went to the Bramha Kumari in the same city for yoga and meditation to keep her calm during the game.
Five athletes from Odisha have found place in the Indian contingent for the Asian Athletics Championships.
Dutee, a weaver’s daughter from Jajpur in Odisha, had in 2016 become the first Indian woman in 36 years to compete in the 100m event at the Olympics. The legendary P.T. Usha had done so in 1980.
This is for the third time that the Asian Athletics Championship will be held in India after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013).
The championship will become the biggest event in the competition’s history with the participation of over 800 athletes from 45 countries. They will take part in 42 disciplines in the sports event.
It will be a qualifying event for the IAAF World Championships in London. (IANS)