Bright Star In The Sky
Dutee Chand, the daughter of a poor weaver, has brought laurels for the country. Struggling hard for the sustenance of their other three children, Chakradhar and Aakhaji Chand, the parents, are today proud of their daughter’s feat
Overcoming poverty, the 17-year-old rustic girl Dutee Chand with her achievements in the track and field events has catapulted Odisha into the national athletics scene.
Dutee Chand has brought laurels to the nation by winning a bronze medal in the Women’s 200m race at the 20th Asian Athletics Championship in Pune in July this year. This was Dutee’s maiden medal at any international event; she failed to win the silver medal just by 0.11 seconds.
Earlier, this year at the 58th National School Games at Etawah in Uttar Pradesh, Dutee won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m respectively, and emerged as the individual champion at the meet for which she was awarded a Tata Nano by the UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav.
Dutee also participated in the World Youth Athletics Championship which was held in Ukraine on July 10-14 and came sixth. Dutee was the first Indian sprinter to reach the final of the biennial event.
“The climatic condition and food in Ukraine were not suitable for me, because of which I failed to win any medal in Ukraine. P.T. Usha is my idol. I had a dream to win a medal in Olympic”, said Dutee. She has enrolled at the KIIT University in Bhubaneswar to study law.
“Dutee is at the Indian camp in Patiala now, preparing for the Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. She has an explosive start. We need to guide her on how to make use of the quick start to win a medal in international meets,” said N. Ramesh, the SAI coach in Patiala.
Dutee has a bright future in athletic sport. There is every chance for her to win medal in international sports like Asian Game and Olympic.”, added her coach.
Many believe that Dutee has the credentials to excel at international meets. It was no shortcut to success for this unassuming girl, whose parents lived on the fringes of penury. To sustain the family, the old parents of Dutee weave cotton clothes at a nondescript village Gopalpur in Jajpur district of Odisha.
Dutee a simple village lass had been propelled into international sport. There had been much celebration in her village and its nearby areas when she won the bronze medal in Pune, and many villagers came to her three roomed mud-walled thatched house to congratulate her poor parents.
“We struggle for our daily bread and butter. Our joy knew no bounds when Dutee was selected for the sports hostel in Bhubaneswar. We were happy because she could get at least better food than what we could afford. The success of my daughter had not changed our lifestyles. We still weave clothes for our sustenance. We continue to live in the mud-walled thatched house. My elder daughter Saraswati is doing a job as police constable and draws a meagre salary. We hope that Dutee gets a better job so that our life may change”, remarked Chakradhar the father of Dutee while weaving cloth at his loom.
Sheer perseverance and hard work paved the way for her success. As a child, she was seen running aimlessly in the village field for hours together. Many thought her to be crazy, but she has proved everybody wrong.
“My elder sister Saraswati Chand is my inspiration. Saraswati Didi won six medals including two gold medals in the International Police Athlete Meet in British Columbia in Canada four years back. She pursued me to be an athlete,” said Dutee.
“I was delighted to know that Dutee has won a bronze in Pune. Dutee became an athlete at 14, following my footsteps. I helped her grow as an sportswoman. She was first learning Kabadi, but later took more interest in athletics. While studying in Gopalpanda high school she became an athletic champion. She even managed to beat boys. Each day she practices for three to four hours apart from other types of exercises. Now Dutee is a more noted athlete than me,” said the proud sister Saraswati, who works as a police constable in Kendrapada.
“Nigamananda Mohanty, the vice-president of the district athletic association said “I was the first coach of both the sisters. Saraswati was a hidden treasure and she was discovered by me. Saraswati used to run near the river bank daily under my watchful eyes. After Saraswati was selected to play for the state and international police meet, her younger sister Dutee took interest in sports. Both the sisters were staying in sports hostel in Bhubaneswar.”
The parents of Saraswati and Dutee hardly earn four thousand every month by weaving. “It is difficult for me to maintain my four daughters and a son for which I allowed my two daughters to reside in the sports hostel. But my daughters are now playing for my country and won many medals,” says a delighted Chakradhar.
By Ashis Senapati from Kendrapara