Track princess Dutee Chand couldn't have been more aptly named.
Tata Athletics Academy (TAA) cadet Dutee (17), whose name means 'shine', aced three gold medals at the five-day 58th National School Games Athletics Championship at Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, held between January 28 and February 2. For her feat, she was declared the best athlete among U-19 girls.
Dutee also was one of the 10 best players at the event to whom Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav pledged Tata Nanos on February 3.
The petite speedster, originally from Jajpur, Odisha, can give any car a run for its money.
At the school nationals, the teenager aced 100m (11:98 seconds), 200m (24:57 seconds) and 400m (55:71 seconds). Her timing in the 100m sprint equalled the national record.
"Dutee is highly talented and combines both speed and stamina on tracks. She took a break from senior athletes' national preparatory camp in Patiala for the school meet. She's back at the camp again," TAA mentor Satnam Singh, himself a former international athlete, said.
Singh, who generously shared credit with the Patiala camp ' "it kept her in good shape" ' added Dutee was in a class of her own.
At the Junior National Inter-State Athletics Championship, held in Lucknow from October 27 to 31, Dutee rewrote the meet and national records by clocking 11:93 seconds in 100m sprint and 24:28 seconds in the 200m dash. She was declared the best athlete in the U-18 girls' category for her record-smashing speed.
"I have high hopes for Dutee. She has miles to go. I'm sure some day she will don the national jersey in international championships," Singh added.
Tata Steel sports department head Captain Amitabh also expressed his delight. "We expect many more medals from this talented sprinter, both national and international. We're hoping Dutee storms the international tracks," he said.
In 2009, Dutee joined the TAA, which has given sprinters of national acclaim such as Sinimol Paulos, Ashwini Nakunji, Namita Kabat and Amit Kumar. Though she went back within months to Jajpur to prepare for her school boards, she returned in 2010 and never looked back, acing junior zonal and state meets.
Dutee's legion of fans, meanwhile, is increasing. The young sprinter's consistent performances in the junior domestic circuit prompted Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to draft her in for the senior national preparatory camp for two prized international events ' Asian Track and Field Championship 2013 in Chennai in August and XVII Asiad, 2014, in Incheon, South Korea.
Right now, at the Patiala camp, Dutee is sweating for the 4x400m relay. "Dutee has the potential to fit in the four-member Indian relay squad for the two international events," Singh added.
P.T. Usha, version 2.0?
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