In the bliss of her Seoul space

P.T.Usha during a talent scouting programme in Hyderabad. File photo: V.V. Subrahmanyam

P.T.Usha during a talent scouting programme in Hyderabad. File photo: V.V. Subrahmanyam

At the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul, India finished fifth, with five gold medals. Four of those medals were won by one woman – P.T. Usha.

She will fly to Incheon on September 25 for what is her ninth Asian Games in a row. She had run in five of those games, and clinched 11 medals.

This is going to be her third Asian Games as Tintu Luka’s coach. In 2002 at Busan, she was a mere spectator.

As another Asian Games is under way in South Korea, Usha, one of the biggest stars ever in the quadrennial event, gets nostalgic. “Of all my Asian Games, Seoul would remain closest to my heart,” she says. “I was at the peak then and was raring to go. I had so run many races in Seoul without taking much of a breather. I was virtually on the track while athletics was on.”

She had won four gold medals – in 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4 x 400 m relay – and a silver in 100m. “I had lost out the 100m gold to Lydia de Vega of Philippines, with whom I had enjoyed a great rivalry; it was a poor start that let me down in that race,” Usha says. “It really was a satisfying outing for me in Seoul where I kept my country’s flag flying and set three Games records.”

She was a huge star in Seoul. “My efforts at the Asian meet in Jakarta, where I had won five gold and bronze, had won a lot of attention and I remember journalists waiting for me at the Seoul airport,” she recalled.

Seoul was her second Asian Games. The first was in New Delhi, where she won two silver medals – in the 100m and the 200m. Her last medal came in Hiroshima in 1994, in the 4 x 400m relay. “I was also in the team for the Bangkok Games in 1998, but I was kept out of the 4 x 400m relay squad because of reasons other than sport,” she says. “I felt humiliated.”

She is now more concerned about how her ward Tintu Luka will fare at Incheon. “I am pretty confident about her chances,” says Usha. “She is good enough for gold.”

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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 11:24:14 am |