P.U. Chitra eyes Tokyo ticket in 800m, coach pins hopes on 1500m

Chitra, the 2017 and 2019 Asian 1500m champion, had run a personal best 4:11.10s in the metric mile at the recent Doha Worlds but felt that the Tokyo entry standard of 4:04.20m was very tough.

P. U. Chitra finished 30th overall in the women's 1500m heats at the IAAF World Athletics Championships.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

With nearly seven seconds to chop off to qualify for next year's Olympics, Asian 1500m champion P.U. Chitra is now planning to work on the 800m seriously for a Tokyo ticket.

“I started running the 800m as a senior only this year, I've run three finals and clocked a personal best 2:02.96s at the Lucknow Inter-State Nationals in August. The Tokyo qualification time is 1:59.50s, so I feel my chances are better in the 800m than the 1500m,” Chitra, who achieved an 800-1500m double at the recent National Open in Ranchi, told Sportstar

READ: Double for P. U. Chitra, Dutee Chand

Chitra, the 2017 and 2019 Asian 1500m champion, had run a personal best 4:11.10s in the metric mile at the recent Doha Worlds but felt that the Tokyo entry standard of 4:04.20m was very tough.

“But there is some confusion. If I get an international meet early next year, or the Nationals, I will try both the events and then decide,” the 24-year-old Palakkad-born Railway athlete, who is coached by J.S. Bhatia.

Last 100m a struggle

However, Chitra admitted that she has to work a lot on her two-lapper.

“After 600m, life gets a bit tough for me because in the next 200m because you need endurance and speed to do a good 800m. And the last 100m is a big struggle.”

“I started running the 800m as a senior only this year, I've run three finals and clocked a personal best 2:02.96s at the Lucknow Inter-State Nationals in August. The Tokyo qualification time is 1:59.50s, so I feel my chances are better in the 800m than the 1500m.” — P.U. Chitra

Meanwhile Bhatia, who also coached Jinson Johnson to the men's 1500m national record recently which took him to the Worlds, feels that Chitra could improve by a big margin in the longer race.

“She has not reached her full potential in the 1500m. Though she has a personal best of 4:11, she is capable of running close to 4:05s, sometimes she can even do a 4:04 and qualify for Tokyo,” said the Dronacharya awardee from his Bengaluru base.

“At the Worlds, her first lap was very easy and then she left the top pack. She tried to come back later but there was some pushing, so she fell back. If she gets some good competition in May or June next year, she can do a lot better in the 1500m.”

He admitted that the qualifying marks in both the middle distance events were not easy.

“It is a difficult task in both but we will try. For the 800m, you should also be capable of running a good 400m, something like 54s. So, we will work on her speed and strength for the shorter race and also on her endurance for the 1500. We have to attack both events.”

He felt that Chitra's physique appeared to be made for the metric mile.

“In 800m, you need a little more weight and strength. Her body, being very slim, is ideal for the 1500m. And she has done only 1500m training this season. But no problem, we will see the 800m also.”