P.T. Usha: Don’t blame me for Chithra’s omission

“I am not part of the Athletics Federation of India’s selection committee and attended the meeting only as an observer,” former sprinter-turned-coach told reporters here on Wednesday.

India's P.U. Chitra won gold at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship 2017 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.   -  Special Arrangements

 

P.T. Usha has said that she would have liked to see P.U. Chithra in the Indian team for the World athletics championship to be held in London next month and that she is saddened by reports in some sections of the media that suggested to blame her for the Kerala athlete’s omission.

Read: Chithra moves Court on exclusion from World Championships

“I am not part of the Athletics Federation of India’s selection committee and attended the meeting only as an observer,” former sprinter-turned-coach told reporters here on Wednesday. “I attended it because I thought I could try to include in the team those who are eligible but are not selected. And I had specifically said that Chithra deserved a chance when she was young.”

She said not just Chithra, but she wanted Sudha Singh and Ajoy Kumar Singh (three athletes who were not selected despite winning the gold at the recent Asian championship at Bhubaneswar) also in the team for London.

READ: AFI president rules out reconsideration of World Championships squad

“But the selection committee had decided that an athlete had to come somewhere near the qualification mark,” she said. “Yes, a continental champion is also eligible to compete at the World championship, but normally he or she would be performing close to the qualifying mark. All the three athletes were way off that mark.”

Usha said she was disappointed to see her name being dragged into the controversy. “It seems even the Kerala Sports Minister now thinks I was responsible, because of the reports in the media,” she said. “On the contrary, I had fought strongly for all deserving athletes, including Anu Raghavan, who eventually was added in the 4x400m women’s relay team.”

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