Ah, cricket. Responsible for so many sleepless nights and ‘sick days’ in India when the men’s team plays an important match. After an anxious day waiting for the sun to shine in England and trying to figure out what the Duckworth-Lewis method meant, World Cup watchers steadily sank into despair as India struggled to get past New Zealand in the semi-finals.
India didn’t make it to the World Cup finals in the end, but it may soothe our competitive souls to remember that a woman in blue (and white) created history today.
Sprinter Dutee Chand, a national record holder, created history by becoming the first Indian woman track-and-field athlete to clinch a gold medal in the World Universiade after she won the 100m dash event held in Naples, Italy.
23-year-old Chand clocked 11.32 seconds to win the gold as she led the race from start to finish. Running at lane number 4,Chand was the first out of the eight athletes to blast off the starting blocks and she made the most of it to fend off a late challenge from Ajla Del Ponte (11.33) of Switzerland.
Chand, who has gone through a tough time in her personal life in recent months, did not mince her words while announcing her victory:
She has now become only the second Indian sprinter to win a gold in a global event after Hima Das, who clinched the top spot in 400m in the World Junior Athletics Championships last year.
This is not the first time Chand has created history. She came out as India’s first openly gay athlete in May in an interview to The Indian Express. Her decision to speak up, while applauded by many, was unfortunately not under the ideal circumstances.
She said in May, “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.”
She was reportedly forced to speak out because her sister, who did not approve of her relationship, threatened to out her to the public. She also faced backlash from relatives and neighbours in her village in Odisha, though that didn’t make her back down.
This has not been the only challenge Chand has overcome. She fought and won a harrowing legal battle after being subjected to a humiliating gender test after she showcased signs of hyperandrogenism.
But this week, she has been hitting headlines in all kinds of heartwarming ways.
Just a day ago, on Tuesday, she was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan India.
Dutee who had won two silvers at the 2018 Asian Games had told PTI in June, that she was deeply affected after coming out and could not train properly for a few days. She said, “My training was disturbed a lot initially. I’ve already told everyone how much stress my sister gave me. I couldn’t train properly at least for 10-15 days after that. But now, I’m starting to forget everything and getting back to my training.”
Dutee bounced back to her A-game and how! Our cricket team is out of the World Cup, and that’s ok, but let’s not forget that this powerhouse of a human being made India proud today.
(with PTI inputs)