Chitra's golden run continues

The gold rush is showing no sign of abating for Kerala’s P U Chitra.

The frail-looking 18-year-old has been in the news for the last couple of seasons thanks to her exploits in middle and long distance races. On Tuesday, she added another gold to her collection, with the 1500M title at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

A triple success (1500, 3000 and the 4x400 relay) at the Asian Schools meet in Malaysia and double success (1500, 3000) at the South Asian Meet has highlighted her season and at the Kerala State Schools meet last week, she set a personal best of 4:26.59 in the 1500M, better than Geeta Manral’s national record of 4:27.40.

Had she achieved that time here, she would have booked a place in next year’s World Junior Championships in Eugene but a change in weather had a say in her run, according to her coach N S Sijin.

Hailing from a poor family -- both her parents are daily-wage earning labourers -- Chitra’s talent was spotted by Sijin, who is the physical education teacher at her school, Mundur Higher Secondary School in Palakkad district.

“She has been running 800, 1500, 3000 and 5000M but we want to cut it down to two events by next year,” said Sijin while praising her ward’s hard work and commitment.
Chitra won four events -- 1500, 3000, 5000 and cross country -- at last year’s National Schools meet Etawah, fetching her a Nano car as a gift. This year, she got another Nano car, thanks to her wins at the State Schools meet. Her house had no road access but thanks to her success, a new path opened up while BSNL employees pooled in money to bring a telephone connection to her home. If she keeps winning laurels, there is no doubt that the road ahead will be rosy for this runner of promise.

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