National coach Pullela Gopichand is credited for making India a force to reckon with in the world of badminton, but there came a moment when he had to turn his attention to a certain track athlete in a dire situation.Dropped unceremoniously from the 2014 Commonwealth Games squad for failing a hyperandrogenism test, Dutee Chand didn’t know what to do. The 18-year-old was looking forward to a trip to Glasgow, instead she had to head back to her village Gopalpur in Odisha.But her coach N Ramesh wanted Dutee to continue training despite the huge setback. Ramesh approached Gopi and asked him accommodate his ward at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.”I didn’t know much about Dutee’s case back then. I accommodated her because Ramesh is a good friend of mine. Later after going through Dutee’s case, I realised what happened to her was unfair,” Gopichand told Mail Today.Dutee, who currently trains at the Balayogi Stadium in Hyderabad under the aegis of the Sports Authority of India, still avails the facilities at Gopi’s academy.”I was able to continue my training only because Gopi sir allowed me to stay at the academy. The stadium where I train is not that far away. Had Gopi sir denied me help, I perhaps wouldn’t be competing today. I am indebted to him. He motivates and guides me. I don’t hesitate to ask him for anything as he is a person you can count on,” Dutee told Mail Today.Ramesh felt had Gopi not stepped up to help, things would have been in a very bad shape.advertisement”No one was willing to help us at that moment,” he said.She returned to competition in September after winning her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. At the Asian Indoors in Doha in February, Dutee set at a 60m meet record clocking7.28 seconds, a national record as well.She also became the first Indian woman athlete to qualify for the World Indoor Meet in Portland in the United States in March, reaching the semi-finals of the 60m.Dutee is yet to qualify for the Rio Games and aims to achieve the Olympic mark at the Federation Cup, starting in Delhi on April 28.”Dutee is the best female sprinter in the country. I am amazed by the resilience this young athlete has shown. She still has a long way to go, but it’s important that a good platform for her career is laid right now. She needs to compete more and get better,” Ramesh said.Dutee is making the most of her stint at the Gopichand academy.”All the players here know me. There are some badminton players whose names I don’t know, but they come up to me enquire after my progress,” she said.Staying at the academy has helped her in more ways than one. Apart from access to a physiotherapist and masseur, she gets to interact with Gopi’s wards.”PV Sindhu is a star player, but she tells me that she is a big fan of mine. Earlier, when I used to return with a medal, no one would ask anything. But now every time I bag a medal, I am congratulated by all the players who train at the academy,” Dutee said.Gopi feels his support to Dutee is the least he could do.”It’s just a minor contribution towards her development. She is a great athlete and person to know. SAI director general Injeti Srinivas had also put in a word asking me to support her.””It’s a very small gesture and she is definitely someone who needs a lot of praise and support for what she does,” Gopi added.