‘I used to run barefoot on river banks and today Puma is making shoes for me’ says ace sprinter Dutee Chand
- Ace sprinter and called as India’s golden girl
Dutee Chandhas signed her first brand endorsement with Puma.
- Chand joins her idol Usain Bolt to be a brand ambassador for Puma.
- In 2019, Chand has broken multiple barriers and records – she became the first Indian athlete to win a gold at a global event and also the first to be an openly gay athlete.
Chand has charted a course of history, on the track. She was the third Indian woman to qualify for the summer Olympics. She is also the first Indian athlete to win a gold in the 100m event at the World Universiade Games held in Naples.
The Idol, Bolt
“Ever since I qualified for Rio Olympics, every top sports apparel brand approached me but I couldn’t sign with anyone then,” Chand said in an interview with Business Insider.
She signed with Puma as she believes the company helps athletes grow. “People couldn’t even recognise athletes earlier, it was all about cricket. But because of these brands promoting athletes, people are recognising us,” she said.
But there’s also a personal reason why Chand chose to endorse this brand.
“One of the most important things was that the person I look up to as my idol – Usain Bolt, he also endorses Puma. So, I was even more excited. He is the world’s number one sprinter and I’m India’s number one sprinter and we endorse the same brand,” said Chand with a visible excitement in her voice.
Struggling to make ends meet
Chand hails from the small city of Jajpur in Odisha, and was born to a weaver’s family. During her childhood, Chand has watched her family struggle to make ends meet. She started contributing to the family’s earnings at a young age, and later went on to make a name for herself in the under-18 category in 2012.
“When I was a child, I used to run barefoot on the river banks, I didn’t have money to buy shoes. Because of my hard work, I was able to buy shoes for myself but I never knew that one day a brand would make shoes for me,” she said.
‘Not finished yet’
This year has been special for Chand. She broke all barriers when she became India’s first athlete to come out and announce that she’s in a same-sex relationship. Then, she made history with her gold at Naples silencing critics.
Chand after winning her Naples gold famously said, “I am not finished yet.” She has set another aim for herself.
“What remains is an Olympic gold medal and that’s what I’m striving for now. All my dreams will be fulfilled then. Every year, I keep an aim to improve my timing. I have broken my own record multiple times now. This year, my aim was 11.26 seconds, I achieved 11.24,” she said.