Dutee Chand, the Indian sprinting ace, has been laid low due to lack of competitions during the lockdown for the pandemic. Image Credit: Cover Asia Press

Dubai: Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has put her luxury car on sale as she attempts to cover the costs of training for the now postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Chand, who lowered her Indian 100 metres record to 11.26sec last year, said she had made the “difficult decision” to sell her BMW car.

The sprinter has been quoted by Times Now as saying she was unable to support herself and her family following the postponement of the Olympic Games to next year as her sponsorship deals have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sportswear manufacturer Puma is among the few supporting the Indian sprinter at the moment.

“I have spent all my money and haven’t earned anything in the last few months. There will be no new sponsors either during this time so selling my car is the only option left,” Chand has been quoted as saying.

“Due to the ongoing pandemic all competitions have been cancelled and sponsorships for Olympics are also no longer there,” she said.

However, Indian Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju has confirmed that he had spoken with Chand about her situation. “In this case I already had a discussion with Dutee Chand and she is fine,” Rijiju tweeted.

“She’ll let me know if she needs additional help,” the minister added.

A current national champion in the women’s 100 metres, Chand has had to deal with off-track issues such as hyperandrogenism that made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete as a member of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Chand appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and in July 2015, received a clearance to race again.

She is the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the women’s 100 metres event at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but her time of 11.69 seconds in the preliminary round did not qualify her for the next round.

In 2018, Chand clinched silver in the women’s 100m at the Jakarta Asian Games, making her the first medallist in that event since 1998. Last year, Chand became the first Indian sprinter to win gold at the Summer Universiade in Naples after clocking 11.32 seconds in the 100 metres.

She is also India’s first athlete to openly come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, when she spoke about being in a same-sex relationship last year.

After resuming her athletics career, Chand has publicly supported South Africa’s Caster Semenya, a double Olympic and a triple world champion over 800 metres. Semenya has appealed to the Swiss courts against a CAS ruling which backed World Athletics’ policy of trying to restrict legally-produced testosterone in female athletes from competing.