Bengaluru: Rio-bound Indian sprinter Dutee Chand on Saturday said she is working hard to improve her speed endurance so that she doesn't taper off in the last 40 metres of the 100m event during next month's Olympics.
"I am too good in first 60 meters, but my speeds slows down in the last 40 meters dash. I agree. I have to improve on my speed endurance, and I am working on it. Ramesh sir is giving lot of attention on it and I am also reciprocating it," she told reporters.
Dutee became the first Indian woman athlete in 36 years to qualify for 100 metres race in an Olympics after legendary P T Usha competed in the blue-riband event in the 1980 Moscow Games.
Asked whether she is better placed than Usha to win an Olympic medal, Dutee said it is not easy because the level of performances of athletes have improved over the years.
"It is not easy to win the medal because times have changed, and there is a lot of competition, besides athletes' performances have been improving over the years," she said.
Dutee said her rivalry with Kazakhstan's Viktoriya Zyabkina, a semifinalist at World championship in Beijing last year, at the Kosanov memorial athletics meet in Kazakhstan, has done a world of good to her ahead of the mega event.
"I did not face any competition from any sprinter in India. Running against Viktoriya has helped me a lot," she said.
N Ramesh, coach of Dutee, praised the Odisha sprinter, saying she has the fighting spirit of a lioness, which stems from the hardships she faced in various stages of life, including the harsh ban imposed on her for having higher level of testosterone than was permissible in a woman athlete.
"She is like a lioness. The good the competition, the better is her performance. She has been bettering her performance from the junior level till the international competition where she qualified for Rio Olympics.
"That is her range. So, wherever she goes she fights like a lioness," Ramesh told reporters.
Ramesh was in the city along with Dutee to attend meet-the-press event held by Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences in Bengaluru.
Ramesh said in his 20 years of coaching stint, he hasn't seen any athlete more passionate about running than Dutee and probably it stems from the hardships she faced in her life, including the gender ban.
"I have not seen in my 20 years of coaching stint, an athlete like Dutee. She loves to compete rather than train - that is the best quality in her. Probably the hardships she faced in her life made her a tough person. People may run for winning but she runs for life," he said.
Dutee achieved a great deal by making the Olympics cut as she was banned in 2014 and dropped from the Commonwealth Games as she was found to have a higher level of testosterone than was permissible in a woman athlete, according to the IAAF hyperandrogenism policy.
Dutee lost an entire year of training and competition but faced the turmoil bravely and fought the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland.
In July last year, in a historic verdict, the CAS partially upheld her appeal and allowed her to resume her career.
"For One-and-a-half year she did not have any training, and was uncertain of her future, and amidst this speculations were rife about her losing job. In spite of all these, she won the legal battle, and came back to qualify for Rio Olympics.
This speaks volumes of what character Dutee is made up of," he said.