“She was not the favorite. Nobody talked about her. The Chinese or Japanese were the favorites to win. The commentator did not even mention her name till about 2m 30s into the race, and she was forced to take the lead from the outer lane. There was no one to celebrate her victory at the end point, but we are very proud of you girl, incredible athlete.” reads a message that has been viral on WhatsApp an Facebook (source untraceable).
The Indian girl, PU Chitra shocked the world and made India proud by winning gold in the 1500mtrs in the Asian Athletics Championship 2017. Her superlative performance in the championship earned her the title, “Queen of Asia in the mile”.
Born on June 9, 1995, at Mundur in Kerala’s Palakkad District, PU Chitra is the third of four children of Unnikrishnan & Vasantha Kumari, both daily-wage laborers. There were occasions when the family of six slept on an empty stomach, and then there we some nights when they survived on a few plates of leftover food.
PU Chitra was inspired by senior girls from her school taking part in sports events and she decided to follow suit. Chitra understood that with her parents’ meager income it was it was difficult for her to follow a high-protein diet that is a necessity for athletes. But she relentlessly fought all the odds, waking up before sun-rise every morning for her physical exercise training. Her prodigious talent was spotted and nurtured by her school teacher Sijin NS.
Chitra started garnering the attention of sports enthusiast when she won gold medals in the 1500m, 3000m, 5000m race and 3 km cross country in 59th Indian National School Games, Ranchi.
In the Asian Athletics Championship in 2017, clocking a time of 4:17.92 seconds, the 22-year-old beat tough competition from Chinese and Japanese athletes to win gold for India. Chitra rose to prominence after her incredible feat at the Asian Championship.
PU Chitra garnered overwhelming support and adulation on social media when despite her spectacular win in the Asian Athletics Championship at Bhubaneswar, she wasn’t included in the Indian squad for the World Championship in London. A hashtag #IsupportChitra went viral on Facebook, with Kerala’s Chief Minister P Vijayan and other leading personalities, supporting Chitra’s inclusion in the world championship. Eventually, her entry was rejected due to the cutoff time.
Like many others, filmmaker Praveen I.D has been inspired by the amazing story of PU Chitra and has announced to do a biopic on her life!
PU Chitra is still a young athlete and has a long way to go in her career. We wish her the best and are certain that she would get many more laurels to the country in the coming years.