17 October 2019 10:37 AM

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SARAH WARIS | 3 SEPTEMBER, 2018

We Could All Learn A Thing Or Two About Overcoming Adversity From Dutee Chand

Two silver medals for Dutee Chand


Ostracized and alienated from the sport that she had made her own, Dutee Chand had a horrendous few years before the smile on her face was reinstated at Jakarta. Competing in the 100 and 200 meter event, the youngster forewent her troubles and the pain that had enveloped her since 2014; challenging the negative emotions towards sprinting as she huffed and puffed her way towards the finish line.

As the whistle blew and as she gave every ounce of her energy to make the race worthwhile, Dutee could not help but think of all the days when she had been burrowed in pain. Tremendous pain. The national record holder of 11.29 seconds in 100 meters had seen the worst when she was stripped off her medals for not being “woman enough”. After the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) tested young Dutee for excess testosterone levels in her body, she had been disqualified from competing in women’s events unless she went under the knife to change herself. “What!?” you might be forced to say.

Unaware of the upcoming trials, Dutee stepped in for a mandatory dope test ahead of the Asian Games in 2014. The results left her shattered, shocked and clueless. Her gender was doubted and more rigorous tests were regularly carried out. Naturally, it left her embarrassed and ashamed - which was made even worse when her fellow competitors started viewing her as unfair and a cheat.

The Federations banned her as she was allegedly gaining undue advantage due to the excess hormones. But how could a five foot girl who was competing against some of the strongest athletes in the world have an undue advantage? How could someone who barely received meals two times a day have undue advantage over girls from countries where facilities were better? Also, is a man stopped from competing in a sport if he has excess male hormones within him? Does that not provide him with undue advantage?

This is what was proved by James Bunting, a high-profile lawyer based in Toronto. He stated that there is no research to prove that more testosterone levels increases the stamina in a woman.

Finally, a ray of sunshine was provided to Dutee when the court ruled in her favour in 2016, giving the IAAF a span of two years to provide solid proof that she was in fact not legible to compete. Pullela Gopichand opened the doors to his badminton academy for her when she regained her strength and stamina whilst also going back to what she knew best - training. In the meantime, the IAAF revised their hyperandrogenism policy that barred women athletes from events if their male hormones exceeded a certain limit. Dutee’s biggest victory came when the IAAF left her out of their purview, ignoring the events that she participates in.

The revised rule is now applicable to players running in the 400m, hurdles races, 800m, 1500m and one mile races.

Once back on the track, Dutee focused on letting go of her trauma to focus on strengthening her speed - her forte. Though the Orissa girl laments her tiny frame that disallows her from dipping better at the finish line, Dutee knows that she has won and emerged a hero after an arduous battle that could have potentially ended her career.

As she returns from Jakarta with two silver medals, the sense of pride and accomplishment is clear. Though the fear of yet another ban is not far removed from her, Dutee has made it a habit of rising above all hatred and obstacles. Running faster than ever, she leaves behind all her troubles to revel in the joy as she knows just how hard she’s fought for it.
 

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