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Indian sprinter Dutee Chand hopes to blaze tracks, get into TOP scheme

Kolkata: Cleared to compete following a landmark gender case, Indian sprinter Dutee Chand is waiting anxiously to shine on the tracks again in her bid to get a slot in the Sports Ministry's Target Olympic Podium scheme for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Dutee was banned last year under IAAF's hyperandrogenism policy after tests revealed that her body produced natural levels of testosterone above permissible range.

Dutee ChandDutee Chand

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in its July verdict, suspended the "hyperandrogenism" rules, which will be scrapped if the IAAF, the world body of the sport, cannot provide new evidence.

With nearly a year lost fighting the case, Dutee is now looking forward to do what she does best on the track -- run for gold. The Railways sprinter is now geared up for the 55th National Athletics Championship which begins here tomorrow. She had won 100m and 200m gold in the 2013 edition in Ranchi.

"I hope I'm able to get back to my rhythm again though I'm a bit nervous. At the same time, I'll be much relieved tomorrow, it's like starting a new life," she said ahead of the Championship.

"However I'm confident of an impressive show so that I can come appeal to get a spot in the TOP scheme," the 19-year-old told PTI on the sidelines of practice at SAI Complex here.

"I was off training during the ban for about two months but after the appeal I started practice again," Dutee said. Getting into TOP scheme is her biggest target as it would help her get a foreign exposure trip to achieve the Rio Olympics sprint qualification standards.

Dutee's personal best in 100m is 11.62secs and she had clocked it at the World Youths in 2013 to become the first Indian to reach a global sprint final. Her personal best in 200m is 23.57 secs. The Rio qualification standards in the two events are 11.32 and 23.20 respectively.

"To qualify for Olympics from sprint is a big deal, something you cannot achieve by training here. There's still some time left for Rio and if I'm confident to achieve the ark if I get a foreign exposure," she said.

After clinching 100/200m golds at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships, Dutee was asked for a gender test in July last year and she missed out on the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games during suspension.

"The emotional pain and turmoil that I went through during the course of the trial cannot be compensated. I cannot get back what I've lost but it's the love and affection of people that I can earn again," she said.

Recalling her turmoil during the time when she faced suspension, Dutee said: "I virtually lost all my friends who doubted my gender.

"Even in hostel, I was barred from sharing the room with my teammates. I lost all the glory that I had brought without any fault of mine. In a way, it taught me a lesson in life, now I know who are real friends."

Dutee is grateful to her sponsors Anglian Medal Hunt, the Sports Authority of India and the Odisha state government for standing beside her during the trial.

"Honourable sports minister Sarabananda Sonowal, (then) SAI director general Jiji Thomson had called me and promised all help. I just told them to 'let me run'."

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