Kerala HC directs AFI to include PU Chitra on IAAF World C'ships team

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court, in an interim order, has directed the Athletics Federation of India “ensure the participation" Asian Athletics 1500m Gold medalist PU Chitra at next month’s IAAF World Championships in London. 

The case will be taken up on Monday for detailed hearing.

Apart from the AFI, the court has issued notices to the Sports Ministry and AFI selection committee chairman GS Randhawa. 

The AFI denied a ticket to the Kerala runner on the 24-member team for the Worlds meet that begins August 4 on the grounds that she failed to meet the qualifying mark set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). But she contended her Asian meet victory made her an automatic pick for London.

Chithra won the 1500m at the July Asian athletics meet in Bhubaneswar in 4 minutes 17 seconds, and was second in the inter-state meet clocking around 4:28. The entry standard for the August 4-13 London meet is 4:07.

“Opportunities of the instant nature would come in the way of an athlete only once in a life time and if they miss the chance, they may not get it again,” the single-bench observed, further adding that Chitra “is an outstanding athlete”. 

Chitra had won Gold at the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar earlier this month, clocking a personal best of 4:17.92. The AFI, on its part, had argued that it was not a performance that met the entry standard of 4 minutes and 7 seconds. “But it is seen that many athletes who are nowhere close the standards fixed have been included in the Indian team,” the singe-judge bench headed by Justice PB Suresh Kumar observed.