Who is Dhanalakshmi Sekar?
- Her father passed away when she was young and her mother worked as a domestic helper
- She broke PT Usha's 23 year old record in the 2021 Federation Cup
- She was the lone sprinter to qualify for 2022 World Athletics Championships
Dhanalakshmi Sekar is a Tamil Nadu-born Indian athlete. The sprinter gained national attention after defeating Dutee Chand, India's finest female 100-meter runner, to win the gold medal. She then outran former world junior champion Hima Das in the 200-meter preliminaries.
In addition, Sekar's second accomplishment saw her smash the meet record for the 200-meter event at the Federation Cup set by the illustrious PT Usha 23 years prior, or roughly one year before she was born.
Sekar outran three of the biggest names in Indian sports and made headlines almost immediately.
Sekar was born on 5 June 1998 in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. Dhanalakshmi faced many challenges as a young child. She lost her father when she was a very small child. Her mother supported the family, which also included her two younger sisters, by working as a domestic helper. As the eldest child, Dhanalakshmi took to sports because she may potentially qualify for government jobs through the sports quota, which is prevalent in rural Indian families with low incomes.
She first sought a respectable position to support her and her family financially. In 2017, veteran Tamil Nadu sprinter Manikandan Arunmugam encouraged and convinced her to start competing in athletics.
At the 2018 Tamil Nadu State Championships, she participated and finished third in the women's 100- and 200-meter races. At the 2019 Federation Cup, she won a bronze medal in the women's 200-meter race.
After taking silver behind Dutee Chand in the inaugural Khelo India University Games in Odisha, Dhanalakshmi saw very little action in 2020 due to COVID-19's disruption of almost all competitions. Her training was further hampered by personal tragedy when one of her sisters passed away from illness in 2020.
At the Sivakasi-hosted 2021 Tamil Nadu State Meet, she won gold in the 100- and 200-meter races. She shattered the women's 200-meter Federation Cup meet record in March 2021, which had been held for around 23 years by the renowned sprinter PT Usha. After winning the 100-meter race at the 24th Federation Cup, she succeeded in doing so. She was selected to compete in the mixed 4x400-meter event at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Budget restrictions prevented her from competing in the Indian Grand Prix, but she lit up the Federation Cup. The quickest runner, Dhanalakshmi, ran the 100 metres in 11.38 seconds (her personal best), which allowed her to advance to the finals. Dhanalakshmi covered her course in 11.39 seconds to win the gold, beating second-placed Dutee Chand (11.58 seconds) and Hima Das. It was her first triumph at the national level. It was Dutee's first defeat in a 100-meter race here since 2015. Hima Das, on the other hand, was eliminated from the 100 metre event due to a faulty start.
In the 200m heats, Dhanalakshmi defeated Hima Das handily. Her time of 23.26 seconds, which defeated Hima Das' time of 23.49 seconds by a wide margin, allowed her to qualify for the championship race. Additionally, the runner from Tamil Nadu beat PT Usha's time at the 1998 Federation Cup in Chennai by 400ths of a second, which held as the meet record for the women's 200m for 23 long years. Dhanalkshmi, however, had to settle for the silver medal in the 200 m final. Her time of 23.39 seconds placed her behind medalist Hima Das, who finished in a time of 23.21 seconds.
The only Indian sprinter to qualify for the 2022 World Athletics Championships was Dhanalakshmi Sekar. However, she won't be able to participate in the competition because she wasn't able to have her visa in order in time to fly to Oregon, USA for the competition.