Indian athlete Dutee Chand on Tuesday won the gold medal in the women’s 100-metre sprint at the 30th Summer University Games held in Naples, completing the race in 11.32 seconds. She is the first Indian athlete to qualify for, and win a gold in a 100-metre race at the Summer University Games.
“I am happy to become the first girl ever to win gold for India in the World University Games. I dedicate this medal to my university KIIT, its founder Professor Samantaji, who has stood by me during my bad days, the people of Odisha and CM Naveen Patnaik for all his support”, she said in an interview with The Indian Express.
Chand is a two-time Asian Champion as well a 100-metre national record holder at 11.24 seconds. She is the second Indian sprinter to bag a gold at a global event, after Hima Das who won the 400-metre gold at the World U20 Championships last year. She is also the second Indian, after Inderjeet Singh, to score the first position at an event in the World University Games.
In 2015, she successfully challenged the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) policy on hyperandrogenism—a condition causing excess production of androgens in women.
Openly Lesbian Athlete
Earlier this year, Dutee Chand revealed that she was in a same-sex relationship, becoming India’s first openly lesbian athlete. Chand publicly acknowledged her relationship with a woman from her village in Odisha.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate. I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with. I have always supported the rights of those who want to be in a same-sex relationship. It is an individual person’s choice. Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with her”, Dutee told The Indian Express.
Also read: Dutee Chand: A Sportswoman Who Broke All Barriers
She is the first Indian athlete to qualify for, and win a gold in a 100-metre race at the Summer University Games.
Having coming out as lesbian, Chand faced criticism from her family who refused to accept her relationship with a woman. According to an article published by The New Indian Express, Chand’s mother, who disapproves of the relationship, said, “…I cannot allow her if she wants to marry a girl. We belong to a traditional Oriya weaver community which does not permit such things. How can we face our relatives and the society?”
“What she is doing is immoral and unethical. She has destroyed the reputation of our village”, her father told Times of India.
Prior to her parents raising an objection to it, Chand had revealed that her sister had threatened to send her to prison for her relationship.
Having coming out as lesbian, Chand faced criticism from her family who refused to accept her relationship with a woman.
Rising in spite of the struggle
Homosexuality still remains a taboo in the country, despite the decriminalisation of Section 377, and for Chand to excel in spite of the backlash, even from her own family, is truly commendable.
Her tweet following her historic win, which read as, “Put me down, I will come back stronger!” along with a photo of her medal and a mini mascot of the World University Games, is a reminder of her resilience and diligence.
Also read: Dutee Chand Is The Queer Icon That India Needs Today
Featured Image Source: OdishaShines
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