Sports sensation PU Chitra has proved her mettle once again by winning a gold medal in women’s 1500m race at the Asian Athletics Championships on Wednesday. With her medal haul, India picked up four medals on the fourth and final day of the competitions, to end at fourth place in the medal tally.

Chitra’s victory was clocked in 4 minutes 14.56 seconds on the concluding day of the championships. Thus she successfully managed to defend the title she had won in the 2017 edition in Bhubaneswar.

With this victory, India won its third gold medal overall, while Ajay Kumar Saroj (men’s 1500m) and the women’s 4x400m relay team clinched a silver each at the Khalifa Stadium.

The win also ensured Chitra’s qualification for the IAAF World Championships in September. “I had become a little nervous towards the end, being next to the Bahraini runner (Gashaw Tigest). She had beat me to third place in the Asian Games. I had to really push hard in the end,” Chitra told IANS after the race.

The girl from  a nondescript village in Palakkad district of Kerala is working her way up with sheer hard work. She is currently one of India’s top medal prospects in middle-distance running at the international level.

Career Highlights

In July 2017, the sprinter added a gold medal to India’s tally at the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar. Chitra surpassed her personal best by 7 seconds– and sealed a berth for the upcoming World Championships (in Women’s 1500m). After the incredible show, she earned the tag of ‘Queen of Asia in the mile’. The footage of her gold-winning performance in the 1,500-metre race was widely circulated.

Chitra is the third woman from Kerala to represent India in 1500m at the world championships, OP Jaisha and Preeja Sreedharan being the first two.

Chitra’s career would have come to a premature end in 2011 due to an injury, but there’s no stopping her today. After settling for a silver at the National Senior Athletic Meet held in Gundur, she bounced back to clinch gold at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in September. In November, she erased a 17-year-old record at the Calicut University Athletic Meet to emerge as a champion in her favourite event.

In the all-India Inter-University championship also, she managed to retain gold. Chitra continued her gold hunt at the invitation athletics meet held in Jakarta, which was a test event for the Asian Games in Indonesia.

I had become a little nervous towards the end, being next to the Bahraini runner (Gashaw Tigest). She had beat me to third place in the Asian Games. I had to really push hard in the end. – PU Chitra

Other Athletes

Meanwhile, sprinter Dutee Chand clinched the first medal of the day for India as she managed a season best timing of 23.24 seconds to win bronze in the 200m race.

“I am really very happy. I missed out on a medal in the 100m and the relay. I put too much effort in 100m and was not sure of a medal in 200m. I just did my best and I am happy,” Dutee told IANS.

Swapna Barman and the 4x400m relay team (quartet of Prachi, Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and VK Vismaya finished second) bagged silvers on Tuesday. The Indian team took its medal tally to 13 at the end of the third day of the Asian Athletics Championships. Sanjivani Jadhav was the third Indian medallist of the day as she clinched bronze in the women’s 1000m race.

Feature Image Credit: Firstpost

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