Indian sports icon and Queen of Indian Track and Field PT Usha celebrates her 58th birthday today.
Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha or PT Usha is known as the ‘Queen of Indian Track and Field’. Born on June 27, 1964, she has been allied with Indian athletics since 1979 and she hogged the limelight throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Since childhood, PT Usha was passionate about sprinting, but poverty and ill-health nearly shattered her dreams. Her destiny took a turn for the better when she received a scholarship of Rs 250 from the Kerala government which set up a new women’s sports division. She found her mentor and coach in OM Nambiar, who played an important role in her success.
On her 58th birthday today, here’s a look at her stellar achievements in sports:
She became the youngest Indian sprinter, at the age of 16, to compete in the Olympics at the 1980 Moscow Games.
She has won 4 gold and 6 silver medals in the Asian Games between 1986 and 1994.
She won 2 gold and 2 silver medals in the World Railway meet in Czech Republic and was honoured as the Best Railway Athlete. She became the first athlete to win this title for the Indian Railways.
She set a record of 55.42 seconds in Los Angeles, USA when the 400m hurdles were added to the women's athletics for the first time.
In 1985 she won 5 gold medals and 1 silver medal at the Jakarta Asian Athletic meet.
She was honoured with the ‘Best Athlete in Asia’ Award five times in the years 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989.
She holds the record for winning the maximum gold medals by an Indian female athlete in single track meets.
She set a world record during the 1985 Asian Track & Field Meet at Jakarta, Indonesia by winning 6 medals at a single sporting event. She won 5 gold medals in the 100, 200,400 metre sprints, the 400 metre hurdles, and the 4 x 400 metre relay in the single event. Then, she also won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metre relay.
Awards and honours
1984: Arjuna Award
1984: Padma Shri Award
1985: Greatest women athlete award, Jakarta Asian Athletic Meet.
1984 to 1989: Consecutive Best Athlete in Asia Award
1984,1985, 1989 and 1990: Marshal Tito Award for the best railway sportsperson
1986: Adidas Golden Shoe Award for the best athlete at Seoul Asian Games
1999: Kerala Sports Journalists Award
1985, 86: World Trophy for best athlete
She has won 30 other international awards for her excellence in athletics.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)