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Pilavullakandi Thekkeparampil Usha (P. T. Usha) is an Indian athlete hailing from Payyoli, Kozhikode, Kerala. She was born on 27th June 1964. She is the queen of Indian race course and is popularly and proudly known by the names Udanpari, Payyoli Express, Sprint Queen, Sportsperson of the century and the Golden Girl of the nation. She was suffering from ill health in her early days of childhood. But she was a fighter. Usha had the spark of an athletic talent right from her primary school days. She has been a performer since those days.
Be it a sports day or a huge sports meet; she has been a star always with her competitive spirit. In 1979, she got noticed at National School Games by her coach O. M. Nambiar who was a trainer of Kannur’s sports division at that time. He successfully spotted the potential to excel when she won the championship on her own. Later, she was under the guidance of her coach. In 1980, there was a Pakistan Open National Meet held at Karachi where Usha did her first ever international performance and won 4 gold medals for the nation which was a self-motivation for her to grow.
She also participated in the Moscow Olympics. In 1982, during the World Junior Athletics Championship held in Seoul, she not only won a bronze medal but also won a gold medal in the 200m race. The graph of her improvement was increasing each day. By 1984, with her dedication, belief in God, and strength from her countrymen, she became the foremost Indian woman to be in the finals of the massive Olympic event at 20 years of age. Usha set a benchmark which is regarded as the Asian best noted as 55.42 seconds, for the event which stands even today as the Indian National Record.
In 1985, at the Jakarta Asian Athletic Meet, she won around five gold medals along with a bronze medal. Later, she did many amazing performances. In 1988, she suffered from a heel injury but still did not give up and rather chose to run and give her best for the country. However, she could not make it to the finals of the Seoul Olympics. She was still not disappointed.
She worked harder and proved to be an excellent edition at the Asian Track and Field meet in Delhi. She made the nation proud in 1989 by winning four golds, and two silvers at this sport meet. She made a fierce comeback in the rest of her appearances too. She got married to V. Srinivasan in 1991 and was blessed with son Ujjwalin the next year. She went back to athletics, though she enjoyed motherhood and domesticity.
In 1998, she surprised the nation by winning bronze medals at the Asian Track and Field meet held in Japan. She firmly believes speed is the essence of any sport. Usha has won more than 100 international medals so far. In 1983, she received the Arjuna Award. In 1985, she became a recipient of the Padma Shree. She has received many awards as well as recognitions for her valuable contributions.
It is a known fact that Indians are extremely talented and gifted but lack encouragement and facilities like proper infrastructure, training, etc. Therefore, in the year 2000, she retired with a promise to groom, train and guide bright and fresh young talents in her own Sports School in Kerala. She proves to be a brilliant coach at the Usha School of Athletics.
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