Kerala High Court raps AFI for denying P U Chitra her due
By Express News Service | Published: 04th August 2017 07:52 AM |
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on Athletic Federation of India(AFI) for denying ace athlete P U Chitra the chance to take part in the IAAF World Championships. It also sought to know whether the AFI is indeed promoting sports activities in the country.
“The AFI is defeating Indian athletes even before they participate in an event, it said. How will the AFI benefit by not sending Chitra, who had won a gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championships, to the World Championships,” the court said?
The High Court made the observation while hearing the AFI appeal against the Single Bench order to ensure Chitra’s participation. The Division Bench held in view of the fact no entries could be sent after July 23, passing the interim order was a futile exercise.The court referred to an open letter from the AFI which mandated athletes to participate in the Interstate Championships in Guntur. It had also made it clear athletes who failed to meet IAAF qualifying standards would not be considered by the selection committee for the World Championships.
Despite this, a few athletes had found a place in the Indian squad. Swapna Barman and G Lakshmanan, both of whom did not participate in the Guntur meet, have been included for heptathlon and 10,000 m race. Even more strange was the case of Sudha Sing, who did not take part in the Guntur meet. Neither was she recommended by the AFI. Nonetheless, Sudha’s name figured in the Indian squad for the IAAF Championships.
Under the IAAF rules, the area champion in an event will qualify automatically for the World Championships. Chitra was the area champion and the gold medalist in the Asian Championships, the HC said. “Is the expert committee encouraging sport? They are not selecting athletes for the event but trying to eliminate athletes. The AFI is finding a false reason to disallow an athlete from participating in World Championships. This literally demoralises young athletes,” the High Court said. “Young athletes are being denied encouragement.Is this the AFI’s aim? If AFI is a responsible body, their action should not be questioned in the public domain,” the court said.
An athlete in her younger years puts in the maximum effort to attain great heights. But merely because she failed to perform on a particular day, she was left out of the Indian squad. It is a once-in-a-life time opportunity for athletes. If the chance is missed, they may not get another chance. To substantiate the point, the court said if Team India skipper Virat Kohli hit a century in a match, he cannot be expected to repeat the feat in the next match. Hence, a responsible body should show discretion while selecting athletes.
'AFI overlooked Chitra's feat'
The HC orally observed the AFI overlooked P U Chitra’s achievements. “Why did the AFI find fault with Chitra rather than give her the chance to take part in World Championships?” the HC said. The court also said athlete G Lakshmanan, who did not participate in the Interstate Meet at Guntur, was included for the 10,000 m race. The AFI justified its action saying he had won two gold medals at the Asian Championships in ‘hot and humid conditions’. Regarding Swapna Barman’s inclusion in heptathlon, the AFI said she was picked her good performance under difficult conditions. “If such an explanation is offered by the expert body, what will be the public’s perception?” the court said.
Chitra’s omission: HC issues notice to AFI
Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Athletics Federation of India on a petition filed by athlete P U Chitra seeking to initiate contempt of court case against the Federation officers. The court issued notices to secretary C K Valson, selection committee chairman G S Randhawa and president Adille J Sumariwalla. The petitioner stated the AFI failed to comply with the court directive asking it to ensure her participation in the world championships. The action of the AFI amounted to deliberate disobedience of the High Court order. The Bench adjourned the hearing of the case to August 22.