P.T. Usha will be in London to guide Tintu Luka in the biggest race of her life when the athletics action begins in the Olympic Games on August 3.
“From the time Usha School of Athletics was launched (2002), my dream was to produce an athletics medallist (at the Olympics). Tintu’s qualification in 800m is a sign that we are on the way,” said Usha in a recent chat with The Hindu.
The Kerala girl is essentially a front-runner, taking charge boldly from the start and banking on endurance thereafter.
Usha ran in a similarly aggressive way at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, where she missed the women’s 400m hurdles bronze by one-hundredth of a second.
“Shortage of experience and exposure to quality competition was responsible for my missing the bronze. I was determined to ensure she (Tintu) does not suffer,” Usha said.
“My aim was not just participation; I went with the intention of coming back with a medal. My students are taught to view the Olympics in the same way.”
“I expect a personal best from (Tintu) in London, pushed by the world’s best middle-distance runners. A medal as reward for that will be wonderful,” said the sprint queen.
Referring to the questions raised about Tintu’s form in the wake of her performance of 2:02.36 at the National Inter-State championships in Hyderabad recently, Usha said Tintu deserves encouragement and understanding for making Olympic grade at 22 — and not scorn for slower timings in domestic meets.
“She cannot record world-level timings without any challengers in local events,” Usha said.
“You cannot cut down timing when no one is around to challenge you. In Kerala, people will be with you once you achieve something big. Till then, you are on your own.”
Tintu attained the ‘B’ qualification standard at the Daegu World Championships (2:00.95) last year, clocked a faster 2:00.79 in the IAAF Diamond League meet at Brussels, and had a personal best 1:59.17 at the 2011 Continental Cup meet in Split, Croatia.