The sprinter from Tamil Nadu beats Hima Das and Dutee Chand, the two most popular Indian sprinters of our time, marking her arrival in Indian athletics.
The 22-year-old whom the world didn’t know till yesterday, is now being hailed as one of the promising sprinters of India and she has earned this position as her own bragging rights.
She is Dhanalakshmi, the girl who beat Hima Das and Dutee Chand besides breaking the record held by P.T. Usha for 23 years – which was set even before her birth.
Who is Dhanalakshmi?
Dhanalakshmi is a sprinter who hails from the village of Gundur near Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu.
Dhanalakshmi’s mettle was witnessed by the Indian athletics fraternity when she stepped into the race track on Tuesday.
The Tamil Nadu sprinter ran in the 24th Federation Cup National Athletics Championship in Patiala, clinching gold in the much-anticipated 100m event by clocking 11.39 seconds..
Her effort stood out in the final against the Asian Games silver medallistDutee Chand, who came second with 11.58. Hima Das was disqualified for a false start.
In the heats, Dhanalakshmi had clocked 11.38 seconds to cover the same distance, the timing was the fastest in the women’s 100m in a competition in India by an athlete other than national record holder Dutee Chand. This was just the start,Dhanalakshmi did something stupendous again on Thursday when she took part in 200m event of the 24th Federation Cup.
In the heats, Dhanalakshmi added another feather in her cap by rewriting New Meet Record (NMR) clocking 23.26 Sec. The previous Meet Record was set by PT Usha – 23.30 in 1998.
This time again, she comfortably beats Hima Das, who clocked 24.39 secs to finish second. Archana won the other heat in 24.0 seconds. The cutoff for qualifying in the Olympics in 200m is 22.80 secs.
How Dhanalakshmi started her journey?
Dhanalakshmi constantly had to battle the shackles of poverty to reach this stage. After losing her father at an early age, her family was dependent on her mother who worked as a domestic help to feed and educate Dhanalakshmi and her two sisters.
Sportwas just a vehicle for her to channelize her struggles. She pursued her studies at Alava’s College in Mangalore and whatever she got as a stipend, she used to send to her family. In her college, she started playing Kho-Kho, but her coach M ManikandaArumugam, a former Tamil Nadu sprinter, noticed she wasn’t that good in the sport and hence, he suggested her to try athletics.
Dhanalakshmi trains under 31-year-old ManikandanArumugan. Manikandan is also an active national-level sprinter from Tamil Nadu and came second in men’s 100m at the 24th National Federation Cup in Patiala.
Manikandan sprinter took Dhanalakshmi under his wings and helped her with food, nutrition, and coaching. Within a year, results could be seen when she won a gold medal in the 200m at the Inter Universities championships in Mangalore.
How Dhanalakshmi progressed?
The lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 affected her training regime. Besides, her sister also passed away due to sudden illness. Her coach managed to secure some financial help and with help of a sponsor, Dhanalakshmi managed to take part in the Federation Cup. Dhanalakshmi’s pet event is 200m and if things work out well, we might be able to see her qualifying in the Olympics as part of the 4x100m quartet.
For now, she just hopes to land a government job so that she can earn and provide monetary support to her family.
Best Athlete of Tamil Nadu –
Dhanalakshmi was named the best athlete in the state during the 92nd Tamil Nadu Senior State Athletic Championships in 2019.
What does her future looks like?
Dhanalakshmi certainly missed out on the direct Olympic qualification in 100m for which she had to achieve a time of 11.15 seconds, but she still stands a chance of reaching Tokyo if she clocks 22.80 or less in the 200m finals to be held later today. Even if she fails to do that, it would be simply hard to ignore the timings she has been clocking and not to include her in the 4x100m women’s quartet which has already earned a place at Tokyo.