No fairytale ending for Chitra

It was always going to be a race against heavy odds for Chitra, the 21-year-old, who had won the 1500m gold at the Asian athletics championship in Bhubaneswar earlier this month, once she was surprisingly omitted from the Indian team for London.

P.U. Chitra may have received the HC directive a little too late.   -  AFP

There was no miracle in the end. P.U. Chitra will not fly to London, after all. “We did what we could, and had written to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but our request has been rejected,” an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official told Sportstar.

“In the wake of the order issued by the Kerala High Court in favour of Chitra, we had explained the situation to the IAAF and requested she be added to the Indian team for the World championship.” The World body’s rejection of the request should hardly come as a surprise for those who closely follow international sport and the way it is administered.

Those federations have their own rules and they normally do not allow the entry of a participant past the deadline. So it was always going to be a race against heavy odds for Chitra, the 21-year-old, who had won the 1500m gold at the Asian athletics championship in Bhubaneswar earlier this month, once she was surprisingly omitted from the Indian team for London.

The AFI’s decision was surprising because as a continental champion, it could easily have added her to the squad. The AFI had reasoned that her timing was not anywhere near the qualifying mark for the London meet. The AFI had the right to omit her, but her inclusion would not have weakened the Indian team considerably (our athletes are not exactly expected to set River Thames on fire).

If nothing else, the World championship would have given her international exposure. For someone who has raced her way to glory from an underprivileged background (she comes from a village in Palakkad and both her parents are daily-wage labourers), an opportunity like this does not come very often. That was why an entire State stood behind her. The Chief Minister, the Sports Minister and the MP spoke for her. Even the Union Sports Minister stepped in. But, it was all too late.