Asian Games 2018: Bronze balm post rejection for Chitra

She didn’t want to talk about it, but the pain in her voice was enough evidence of the suffering she was put through. 

Published: 31st August 2018 07:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2018 07:06 AM   |  A+A-

PU Chitra

Express News Service

JAKARTA : She didn’t want to talk about it, but the pain in her voice was enough evidence of the suffering she was put through. “This is my first international event,” she said, stressing on the word international. “And I medalled... in my first international event.”She had taken part in meets like the Asian Athletics Championships in 2017. She is, in fact, the defending champion, but this is her first experience of a blue-riband event. It would have been her second had the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) agreed to send her to the World Championship in London last year. That was really when the petite girl from Palakkad entered the national consciousness even though she was winning in every competition she entered at the junior level.

She argued that winning the Bhubaneswar meet was tantamount to qualifying for the Worlds but AFI did not see it that way. Peeved by the rejection, the 23-year-old approached the high court but it was too little, too late. It’s been a good 12 months or so since that rejection. “I didn’t really feel anything when I wasn’t sent. I just trained extremely, extremely hard the last year to be ready for this event,” she told Express. In fact, she was the women’s 1500m gold medal favourite. Coming into the event, she was the Asian leader with a time of 4:11.55.

On Thursday, she couldn’t live up to that billing and had to be satisfied by bronze with a time of 4:12.56. The Bahrainian duo of Tigist Gashaw and Kalkidan Gezahegne upped the pace with two laps to go and Chitra was ca­ught in no man’s land. “I knew I would medal so I am happy with that,” she said. “I could have challenged those two but I think my inexperience caught me out in the end. I felt tight at the end and my kick never really came.”

Like a few athletes who have medalled, Chitra, whose family struggled to put food on the table at one point of time, too, doesn’t have a job. But she has got bigger aspirations. “I am doing a postgraduate course in history fr­om Christ College in Irinja­l­a­kuda. After I graduate, maybe.”She kick-started another successful day for Indians, who finished the athletics programme with a total of 19 medals (7G, 10S, 2B), third in the table behind China and Bahrain.


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