PU Chitra, an athlete from Kerala who recently won a gold in the women’s 1500m event in the Asian Athletics Championships, has filed a writ petition in the state's high court after she was excluded from India's squad for the IAAF World Athletics Championships, to be held in London next month.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the athlete has gone to court questioning the decision made by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), as her gold medal performance at the Asian Athletics Championships makes her an automatic pick for the World Championships.
An athlete can qualify for World Championships either by meeting the qualifying standards set by International Federation, or by winning gold medals at some select meets, one of them being the Asian Athletics Championships.
The report quotes Chitra's lawyer Rajit, who said, “Chitra won the gold but was not picked when the team was announced. The Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) chairman of selectors and secretary have to explain based on what criteria the Indian team was picked and why Chitra was excluded.”
AFI, the body which announced the squad on 23 July, justifies Chitra's exclusion by saying that the athletes whose performance did not match the qualifying standards of the world body have not been included in India's squad.
“We have not named some athletes who have won gold in Asian Championships because their performances were well below the IAAF World Championships qualifying standards," said GS Randhawa, the AFI’s chairman of selectors.
The AFI has also excluded Swapna Burman, Ajay Kumar Saroj and Sudha Singh from India's squad for the World Championships — all three gold medallists at the Asian Athletics Championships in Heptathlon, men’s 1,500m and women’s 3,000m steeplechase.
Chitra's exclusion has become a matter of great concern in her home state. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has come out in full support of Chitra, saying, “Excluding Chitra, pride of not only of Kerala but also of the country, from the team for World Athletics Championships is condemnable. Neglect shown to the athlete cannot be justified."
The state government further plans to take up the matter with the Centre, whereas the leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala has written a letter to sports minister Vijay Goel.
According to a report by The New Indian Express, Chitra has claimed that she won a gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championships despite rain on the day, which hampered her performance.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 26, 2017 18:31 PM