'So near yet so far' goes a very famous idiom. Only athletes understand the gravity of the one-liner, the most. On Thursday, India's Dutee Chand won a gold medal in the ongoing Federation Cup National Athletics Championships in New Delhi, but missed out on a Rio Olympics qualification time by one-hundredth of a second.
The 20-year-old sprinter from Orissa broke a national record as well as winning the best of the three medals in the evening, but she missed out booking a quota place for India in the 2016 Olympics.
Dutee completed the women's 100m event at the JLN Stadium in the national capital with a time of 11.33 seconds, breaking a 16-year-old national record of 11.38 seconds, set by Rachita Mistry. According to the rules, the 2016 South Asian Games silver medallist in the 200m event had to clock 11.32 seconds to book a place for India in the Olympics.
Missing the greatest sporting event in the world by a whisker can no doubt be the most disappointing thing ever in a sportsperson's life, but Dutee, on her part is happy for the national milestone she achieved. She still, meanwhile, has a chance to qualify for the mega sporting event, scheduled for August.
"I could not qualify for Rio Olympics but I am not disappointed by that. I am extremely happy, the national record is mine now," she told the Press Trust of India. "It is very early in the season, it's the first meet and I have three more months to qualify for the Rio Olympics."
Dutee was banned from participating in any athletics competitions in 2014 by the IAAF over hyperandrogenism. However, she filed a successful appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne in July last year to earn the right to compete again.
"I have gotten over all those disappointments related to my case," Dutee recalled. "After winning the case at the CAS, I have been focussing on my running and with the help of my personal coach (N Ramesh) and my well wishers, I could achieve this."
Dutee's coach, Ramesh, hoped that her achievements will be recognised by the sports ministry, and the 20-year-old is included in the government's TOP (Target Olympic Podium) scheme.
"I hope Dutee will now be included in the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme. It will be better if she is sent for foreign training stint," said Ramesh. "Here in India the temperature will keep on increasing and chances for Rio qualification will be more in competitions outside the country. We will make a request to the sports ministry and Sports Authority of India."