Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has revealed that she is in a relationship with another woman, making her India’s first publicly out athlete, Reuters reports.
The athlete opened up about her personal life, including her relationship, in an interview with Indian newspaper The Sunday Express that was published over the weekend.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate,” Chand said. “I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with.”
Chand, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, also said that she found the courage to come out publicly after India’s Supreme Court overturned the colonial-era law that criminalized gay sex as an “unnatural offense” last September.
“In the future I would like to settle down with her,” she said of her partner, whose name Chand withheld for privacy reasons. “I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love. There is no greater emotion than love and it should not be denied.”
Earlier in the decade, Chand garnered headlines after the International Association of Athletics Federations barred her from competing against other women on account of her naturally high testosterone levels caused by hyperandrogenism. She appealed that decision, and the Court of Arbitration ruled in her favor in 2015.
Caster Semenya, another world-class runner who happens to have hyperandrogenism, has faced similar obstacles. Earlier this year, a ruling by the Court of Arbitration banned her and other women with naturally high testosterone levels from competing against other women unless they take medications to lower those T levels. Chand, who is a sprinter and thus unaffected since the rules only apply to runners who compete in some middle-distance events, spoke out in Semenya’s favor at the time of the ruling.
“This is a wrong policy of the [IAAF], and whatever reason they are giving, it is wrong,” she said, per The New York Times.