Know Your Asian Games Girls: Runner PU Chitra
The Jakarta Asian Games is underway and sports sensation PU Chitra is prepping to bag sprint medals. She is among the 11 track and field athletes who have been selected by the Athletics Federation of India. 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. Here are some things to know about the ‘Queen of Asia in the mile’.
How running happened
You all would be wondering how the little sprinter from a small village earned the tag of ‘Queen of Asia in the mile’. From being a star performer at school and national meets to becoming the country’s golden girl — the road was inevitable, but tough.
She is the third daughter among four children. Her parents — Unnikrishan and Vasantha Kumari – are daily wage earners, struggling to make their ends meet.
Chitra has been training under Sijin, an award-winning physical education teacher of the Kerala government, for the past 10 years. The athlete has been awarded Nano cars by UP and Kerala governments for her remarkable achievements at school meets. The frail-looking 23-year-old has shown impressive results in the international arena too.
Chitra is currently studying at VTB College, Sreekrisnapuram, and wants to take up a job to help her family. Last year, she has appeared for trials with the Central Excise in Chennai.
In July last year, 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 Keralite 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.
Still Going Strong
Despite all the troubles she had faced in 2017, Chitra was in sparkling form throughout the season. In the 1,500-metre event at national meets, her domination was almost complete. She won hold at the Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championship held in Patiala in June last year.
After settling for a silver at the National Senior Athletic Meet held in Gundur, she bounced back with a vengeance 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 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 two two weeks ago, which was a test event for the Asian Games in Indonesia.
However, it was disheartening when she was dropped from the Indian team for the World Athletics Championships in London last year.
We wish Chitra all the best!
Feature Image Credit: Firstpost