Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today sought a wild card entry for P U Chitra, to enable her to participate in the World Athletics Championships in London next month, and wanted Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel to intervene in the matter. Commenting on media reports that the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had taken the stance that the athlete would not be able to compete in the event as the entry deadline was over, he said, “the AFI must use its discretionary powers to ensure her participation in the event”. “The stance of the federation is unacceptable. I believe another athlete (Dutee Chand) was handed wild card yesterday. So, the sports ministry has to intervene in the issue issue immediately and Chitra should also be granted a wild card entry,” Vijayan said.
“The federation’s decision needs to be altered and the sports minister should intervene in the matter immediately,” Vijayan told reporters in Kozhikode. Kerala Sports Minister A C Moideen visited the athlete’s house at Mundoor in Palakkad and promised the backing of the state to enable her to reach greater heights. Chitra said though the federation’s decision had saddened her, it would not weaken her spirit. She also wanted the Kerala government to provide a suitable job to enable her to pursue her sports career.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the central government should instruct the federation to include Chitra in the Indian team. In an email sent to the sports minister, Chennithala said despite the direction of the Kerala High Court to include Chitra in the team, the federation was reluctant to implement it. The sports minister has advised the AFI to honour the Kerala High Court directive on Chitra to ensure her participation in the upcoming World Championships. The athlete, who won gold in 1,500 metres event at the recent Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar, was left out of the Indian team by AFI on the grounds that she failed to meet the qualifying mark.