PU Chitra – does the name ring a bell? Well, if you haven’t heard of her, she is the latest sportstar who has made India proud. On Friday (July 7), the sprinter added a gold medal to India's tally at the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar.
22-year-old PU Chitra was unstoppable on the racing track. Even the rain couldn’t stop her from running and she surpassed all expectations by clinching gold in the women's 1500 m, clocking 4.17.92 seconds, ahead of Geng Min of China (4:19.15) and Ayako Jinnouchi (4:19.90) of Japan.
Her gold was a sudden add-on to the medal tally but this golden girl’s story is one of a kind.
- Chitra hails from Mundur, a nondescript village in Palakkad district in Kerala.
- She is the third daughter among four children and her parents -- Unnikrishan and Vasantha Kumari – are daily wage earners. Both are agricultural labourers, struggling to make their ends meet every day.
- Chitra has been training under Sijin, an award-winning physical education teacher of the Kerala government, for the past 10 years.
"I was disappointed that I could not speak to my coach who came all the way from Mundur to Bhubaneswar to motivate me. He did not have the official coach's pass to be at the dedicated zone for coaches. I just spoke to him before the dope test team took me away. But he deserves a lot of credit for my success," Chitra told TOI.
- Chitra is currently studying at VTB College, Sreekrisnapuram, and wants to take up a job as soon as possible to help her family. Last month, she has appeared for trials with the Central Excise in Chennai.
"I hope I get a state government job as soon as possible. That's my priority. I have done my best now and it's for others to recognise it and do the rest," said the athlete.
- In Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium, Chitra surpassed her personal best by 7 seconds-- and sealed a berth for the upcoming World Championships (in Women's 1500m).
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- After the incredible show, she is now being tagged as the 'queen of Asia in the mile'.
"Of course, I did not expect gold. My personal time before this was around 4 minutes 24 seconds which I did last year. This time I won the Federation Cup gold to make it to the national squad. Before entering the track, all I wanted was a medal as usual. But in the final, with 250m to go for the finish, I got a sudden energy and surged ahead and finished first. It was like surreal and it was great to be called Asian queen in the mile," said Chitra.
- Before Asian Athletics Championships, she has bagged many gold medals in state, national and international school meets in middle and long-distance track events.
- An undergraduate, Chitra has been awarded Nano cars by UP and Kerala governments for her remarkable achievements at school meets
"For villagers like us, sky is the limit. I'm proud of Chitra's performance and I'm more than glad that a physical education teacher like me could mould an athlete from a village with limited facilities to the world stage," said her coach.
- Chitra is the third Keralite to represent India in 1500m at the world championships, OP Jaisha and Preeja Sreedharan being the first two.
- She now aims to pursue her London World Championship dreams. "I'll try my level best. I hope to maintain form," she said.
Congrats Chitra! Way to go, girl!
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Feature Image Credit: Firstpost
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