By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
The Indian sprinter who has made headlines and cause her fair share of controversy, especially after she came out as India’s first and highest profile openly LGBTQIA+ athlete. Dutee Chand has officially headed for her second Olympic Games.
After she came out as lesbian, she won India’s first gold medal at the World’s University Games and has gone on to break India’s national record in the 100m twice, including her second after a long post-pandemic break. While her time was .02 seconds short of the automatic qualifying mark, her time at the July 1st Indian Grand Prix meet allowed her to grab a wild card slot for the Tokyo Olympics where she is currently ranked 47th in the world. In addition, she also grabbed a spot for the 200m after being ranked 59th in the world for that event. Meaning she will compete in the heats for both the 100m and 200m in Tokyo in just a few weeks.
“It’s every athlete’s dream to compete at the Olympics,” Chand told the Times of India. “I am very fortunate to compete in two successive Olympics.”
Chand’s career has not been without controversy either. In 2014, she was banned by World Athletics based on World Athletics rules on hyperandrogenism. Chand naturally produces more testosterone in her body than what is considered “normal” for an athlete competing in the women’s division. Chand took the case to the Court of Arbitration for sport, challenging them on the policy in 2015 and won. Despite her success challenging the World Athletics’ rules in this regard, World Athletics and the International Association of Athletics Federations are still struggling to understand and deal with athletes who have hyperandrogenism. With several athletes, primarily from Africa, with hyperandrogenism currently being banned from participating at the Tokyo Olympics.
For Chand, the work is just getting started. Her goal is to improve upon her performance from the 2016 Olympics where she did not advance beyond the initial heats. Her goal is to achieve an Olympic medal for India, and as the teams are shaping up this summer, she will have some solid competition.