In a relief, the Kerala High Court has issued an interim order to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to include PU Chitra in the Indian squad for the World Athletics Championships. The order was issued by the HC while considering the plea submitted by the athlete after she was left out of the Indian team despite being eligible to compete in the World Championship. She has won the 1,500 gold in the recent Asian Championships. The HC had asked the Centre to list out the selection criteria.
Meanwhile, talking to the media Chitra over phone said that she is happy with the decision and is still unclear of whether she could make it to London this August 4 to 13. Chitra's father Unnikrishnan said that the family had lost sleep since the day she was rule out of the squad to World Championships. Unnikrishnan said that along with the state government the public support had made it happen. He also said that he still doubt AFI retracting their decision and if so getting London on a short notice for an athlete like Chitra would be a gargantuan task.
Since the day AFI has announced the squad without the 1,500 m gold medalist people on social media have come in pack the injustice done to a girl who fought all odds of her life to make a mark in the international sports. Even chief minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan said that the decision is something sad and should be corrected. Sports lovers come in pack supporting her and however at the end the High Court of Kerala while hearing Chitra's plea has asked the AFI to include her in the Indian squad to London.
Meanwhile, the issue has snowballed into a controversy in the state with a large section of people blaming former Athelete PT Usha for excluding Chitra. Usha later clarified that she has not had any role in the selection proceedures as she is only an observer in the selection panel designated by the central government.
The event, Asian Athletics Championship, that made PU Chitra eligible for the Worlds was held Odisha in early July was a delight to watch. She came first after trailing in the fourth position in the final lap of the 1,500 event. She finished the event in 4.17.92 seconds and is hailed as the 'Queen of Asia in long running' event. Earlier AFI has said that the winner of the event will straight go to London, but they said that she has no quality and competence to compete in an event of such international standard.
Chitra is from a family of daily-wagers in Mundur of Palakkad district of Kerala. Her father had to struggle a great deal in bringing up the family. Many nights the family had to eat on the left overs of the morning and Chitra went to sleep with empty stomach. Poverty was not a deterrence to this strong-willed, lanky girl who would appear next day early morning for her daily practice at a government school at Mundur.
She had to survive on a Rs 25 per day from Kerala Sports council and Rs 600 a month from the Sports Authority of India in a scheme for young athletes. Later when she started to win medals in state and national events government along with people had come to support her. A girl like she had to fight all odds and scale many heights to reach an international venue despite the poverty and limited resources. With a decision to exclude has brought only irreparable damage on AFI and it is the talents like her to be supported.
Chitra hopes that some miracle would happen in between to accomplish one of her childhood dreams of representing India at a international event come true.
"I do not know but thanks for the public support. I hopes the best to come", said her to media.