New Delhi: Sprinter Dutee Chand has become the first Indian sportsperson to reveal that she is in a same-sex relationship. The 2018 Asian Games double silver medallist disclosed about her being gay in an interview to a newspaper on Sunday (May 19).

The 23-year-old, who is the 100m record holder in the country, said she has found her “soulmate” in her hometown and added that everyone should have the freedom to choose who they want to be with.

Watch: Exclusive interview with Dutee Chand

“I have found someone who is my soulmate. I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with. I have always supported the rights of those who want to be in a same-sex relationship. It is an individual person’s choice. Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with her,” Dutee told The Sunday Express.

“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. The Supreme Court of India has also struck down the old law. I believe nobody has the right to judge me as an athlete because of my decision to be with who I want. It is a personal decision, which should be respected. I will continue to strive to win medals for India at international meets,” the Odisha sprinter said.

Also read: India salutes Dutee Chand

Dutee, who is from Chaka Gopalpur village in Odisha's Jaipur district, did not disclose the name of her partner. She said she wanted to be with someone who encourages her. “I wanted to be with someone who will encourage me to continue being a sportsperson. I have been a sprinter for the past 10 years and I will perhaps continue to run for the next five to seven years. I travel around the world to compete. It is not easy. Mujhe kisi ka sahara bhi chahiye (I need someone who will support me on the personal front).”

In September 2018, Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex in a historic judgment striking down 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377.

At the Jakarta Asian Games last year, Dutee won silver in 100m and 200m events. In 2014, she was dropped from the Indian contingent for Commonwealth Games as the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) stated that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete.