Sprinter Dutee Chand is now India’s first openly gay pro athlete.
The 23-year-old athlete told reporters she was in a relationship with a woman from her village. She also told the Indian Express that she decided to come out after India’s Supreme Court overturned a ban on consensual sex between two same-sex partners in 2018.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate,” she said. “I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with.”
Chand reportedly didn’t name her partner in the interview to prevent any “undue attention.” She told Indian Express that she’s currently focused on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with [my partner.]” she said.
IAAF, the world’s governing body for running, banned Chand from competing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She has reportedly taken a hormone test that showed her naturally occurring testosterone levels exceeded an imposed cap for women’s track and field events. In 2015, her legal team reportedly argued successfully that the ruling was “flawed and discriminatory.”
In 2018, the IAAF scrapped the testosterone cap for 100m and 200m races, allowing Chand to compete again. She won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games in the women’s 100m dash and 200m races.