P.T. Usha is not surprised at all by the revelation of P. Udaya Laxmi that the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) wanted her to break Usha’s records.
“I rather feel relieved and vindicated,” Usha told The Hindu here on Thursday. “Udaya Laxmi is not the only athlete who has been asked by the administrators to go after my records; they now want to take away the only record I hold, in the 400m hurdles that I set at the final of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.”
She clarified that she never wanted to cling to her records desperately.
“Records are meant to be broken and they should be broken, but fairly,” Usha said.
“Athletes like Milkha Singh, Sriram Singh, T.C. Yohannan and I set our records at international meets under stringent conditions, against the stiffest competition.
“So it pained me to see my records being wiped off the books in meets that could not be compared to those which I set those records at.
“That was why I wrote to the Sports Ministry in 2000 that there should be some norms for a record to be ratified.”
She said many things should be considered before a new National record is approved.
“There should be dope testing, proper wind gauge and electronic timing and the meets should be recognised,” she said.
“I am not sure if those norms are always followed. I have seen an Indian athlete herself swearing at a National meet that she never could have run the race in the time she was told she did.”
Usha said she could understand the need for the records to be broken.
“If a record stands for too long, that tells you that the country is not making enough progress, but that does not mean that you should create a new record by any means,” she said.
“Spare a thought for people like me who sweated it out for our moment of glory and the joy we brought for the country. I had earned my records the hard way.
“I had set the National record in the 400m final of 51.61 in the final of the 1985 World Cup final in Canberra. I had finished fifth in the race in which Marita Koch of East Germany had broken the World record.”‘Not to blame athletes’
Usha said she would not blame the athletes for the messy situation.
“They have no choice,” she said. “If you do not obey, you may not be even in the team.”
She said she could understand why her records had been singled out.
“When my records are broken, it is big news,” she said. “There have been instances when athletes have been richly rewarded purely for breaking my record.”