It seems like India is on a winning spree at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships as it bagged yet another gold on the fourth day at the Championships held in Doha. PU Chitra, an amazing athlete from Kerala, won gold for the country in the women’s 1500 metres race which she covered at 4 minutes 14.56 seconds. By winning this, she is now qualified for the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships which is to be held in September. Chitra bagged gold even in 2017 at the Asian Athletics Championships held in Bhubaneshwar.
After her win, Chitra exclaimed, “I had become a little nervous towards the end being next to the Bahraini runner (Tigist Gashaw). She had beaten me to third place in the Asian Games. I had to really push hard in the end.” As of now, India has won three golds in the Asian Athletics Championships.
24 year-old PU Chitra was born in Mundur, Palakkad District of Kerala. Her parents are daily wage laborers who take up odd jobs to earn bread for the family of four children and the parents. Refusing to become a victim of circumstances Chitra went on to win numerous state, national as well as international medals in field and track events.
Chitra grew up in a life of poverty where at times, the family survived just on leftovers or sleep with an empty stomach. However, none of this could come in the way of Chitra and her dreams as she used to go to her government school every morning to practice.
Sijin N S, Chitra’s coach, told that she chose athletics training in her school. Although she didn’t come from a financially stable family, she never gave up her commitment towards her training. “She had the kind of drive I had not seen in other athletes her age”, says her proud coach.
Chitra got into a controversy in the year 2017 as AFI’s request of including PU Chitra in the World Championships’ Indian Squad was rejected by IAAF. AFI made a plea to the IAAF for considering to include Chitra in the team and even Kerala High Court directed the central government for allow Chitra’s participation in the event. Chitra, in a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) stated that as she had won gold in the Asian Athletics Championships 2017, she is automatically eligible for World Championships.
She received high social media support as the hashtag #IsupportChitra on Facebook and Twitter went viral as many celebrities took to social media for showing their support to Chitra. Even Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala rooted for the athlete while PT Usha came under the criticism of the netizens and had to face backlash for calling Chitra’s performance “not up to the standards”.