Chithra moves Court on exclusion from World Championships

P. U. Chithra filed a petition protesting her exclusion the Indian contingent for next month's World Championships despite having won the gold at the Asian championships earlier this month.

“We were shocked to find that she wasn’t on the team," said Chithra’s coach N.S. Sijin.   -  K. K. MUSTAFAH

Athlete P. U. Chithra filed a petition in the Kerala High Court on Tuesday challenging her exclusion from the Indian team for the World championship to be held in London next month. She was not named in the squad announced by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Sunday.

She contended that she had qualified for the meet by winning the gold at the women’s 1500m race at the Asian championship at Bhubaneswar earlier this month.

“By winning the gold, she should have won a place in the team and her timing or form should not have mattered at all,” Chithra’s coach N.S. Sijin told Sportstar.

“We were shocked to find that she wasn’t on the team. Only Chithra, Sudha Singh (women’s 3000m steeple chase) and Ajoy Kumar Singh (men’s 1500m) have been treated thus by the AFI despite winning the gold at Bhubaneswar."

Sijin felt it was very unfair. “How can the AFI omit only three athletes saying that their timings are not good enough?” he said. “If only medal prospects were to be sent to London, I don’t think there is anyone who stands a genuine chance.”

He added there were several athletes in the team who did not have world standard. “Then why are they excluding only three, including Chithra?” he asked. “We decided to move the court because we felt there was a gross injustice and athletes like her should not suffer in the future.”

Sijin said he was glad that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Palakkad MP M.B. Rajesh have come out in support of the 21-year-old.

“The AFI should actually be encouraging athletes like Chithra; she comes from a very humble background and both her parents are both daily-wage labourers,” he said. “She is not the product of any famous coach, and trains under me, a mere physical education teacher at a rural school.”