THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday threw his weight behind middle-distance runner P U Chithra who was excluded from the Indian contingent for the upcoming IAAF World Championships by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI)
Chithra, who hails from a village in the Palakkad district of Kerala, had cleared the qualification mark for the world championships by winning the gold in the women's 1,500 metre in the Asian Athletics Championship held in Bhubaneswar earlier this month. Surprisingly she failed to make it to the 24-member Indian squad for the world championships.
"It is shocking and unacceptable that Kerala's Chithra who won an automatic entry into the World Championships has been left out," Pinarayi said via social media channels. "Kerala strongly protests the omission of Chithra from the Indian squad," the chief minister noted. "We will bring this to the notice of the Central government." Pinarayi added.
The Chithra camp, meanwhile, said that they would approach the Kerala High Court to ensure justice for the young athlete. "I hoped I would run at the World Championships and it is very sad to hear that my name did not feature in the list for the squad. I could do better than my expectations in the Asian championships and the timing was good," said Chithra.
Meanwhile, the Kerala State Athletics Association (KSAA), accused of keeping quiet in the issue, has sent a letter to the AFI requesting the inclusion of Chithra and Jaikumar P B, coach of athletes Anu R, Anilda Thomas and Mohammed Anas Y, in the Indian team for the world championships.
Babu P I, the secretary of KSAA, in the letter addressed to the AFI secretary general, said, "It is our request to include her in the team considering her performance in the Asian meet and her age. These kind of exposures can work wonders for junior athletes like Chithra in the future," he said in the letter addressed to the AFI secretary general.
The IAAF World Championships in Athletics is scheduled to be held in London from August 4 to 13.