Did they exclude Chitra because we are a poor family? asks her father
Mundur (Palakkad): “Ours is a poor family. I am a daily wage labourer. May be that is the reason why my daughter was not considered for the championship,” Unnikrishnan, father of athlete P U Chitra, said as he struggled to hold back tears.
When this reporter reached Chitra’s house at Thalappotta on Tuesday, her father and mother Vasanthakumari had gone for work at a house construction site in the same region.
“She called us today morning. She is sad and we consoled her,” Unnikrishnan said. “She is not a bad performer. She had won gold for India. Why they are not considering it,” he wondered.
Narrating how hardworking Chitra has been, the parents said they get up at 4 in the morning and prepare food for the girl. She leaves home at 6 am for practice. After completing her practice session at a school ground here, she goes to college and returns late in the evening.
The prayers of the village are with Chitra, they added.
There has been widespread discontent after the Athletics Federation of India dropped Chitra from the Indian squad for next month’s World Championships, despite qualifying for the mega event.
Before the London event, Chitra won the 1,500m gold medal at the Asian Championships.
A petition was filed by the athlete in Kerala High Court on Tuesday, following which the court sent a notice to the AFI.
‘Excluding PU Chitra from Indian squad unacceptable’
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday backed the state athlete, saying “excluding Chitra, pride of not only of Kerala but also of the country, from the team for World Athletics Championship is condemnable. “Neglect shown to the athlete cannot be justified,” he added.
The state government will take up the matter with the Centre, the chief minister said, adding they would extend full support to Chitra.
Besides Chitra, top Indian 3000m steeplechaser Sudha Singh and Ajoy Kumar Saroj (men’s 1500m) were also left out of the 24-member squad announced by the Athletics Federation of India on Sunday.
They were ignored despite qualifying for the event by winning the gold medals in their respective events in the July 6-9 Asian Championships at Bhubaneswar. Athletics Federation of India selection committee chairman Gurbachan Singh Randhawa had said the performance of the three in the Asian Championships (and their season’s best) were well below the World Championships qualifying standards.
“We have not named some athletes who have won gold in Asian Championships because their performances were well below the IAAF World Championships qualifying standards,” he had said.
The World Championships will be held in London from August 4 to 13.