U: P. T. Usha #AToZChallenge

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Much before Usain Bolt blazed his way into our screens and on social media, the only athletes we Indians were aware of were Milkha Singh and P. T. Usha. Since I studied in an all girls school, at every sports day our physical education teacher used to ask us to embrace our inner P. T. Usha and run like her. She's been the sole inspiration from the field of sports during our growing up years. I'm so glad we have Mary Kom, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik, Hima Das, the Phogat sisters and many more now.

Women being a part of sport is a pretty recent thing, at least in India. Women are never encouraged to take up sports and asked to focus on cooking and other domestic chores. They aren't event considered physically strong enough. Defying all stereotypes and crushing all the norms, Usha has won 101 International medals till date.

Usha was noticed by her athletics coach, O. M. Nambiar, thanks to her lean frame and fast walking style in 1976. He saw the potential in her and began coaching her. She went on to win multiple medals at the 1979 National Games and 1980 National inter-state meet, setting many records. In the 1985 Jakarta Asian Championships, Usha won six medals, five gold and one bronze. She also won three gold and one silver at the 1987 Singapore Asian Championships. So far, she has won 101 medals and currently is employed by the Southern Railways. She was conferred the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award in 1984.

Currently she coaches young athletes at her training academy in Kerala.

Thank you, Usha, for being the first female athlete we know. Thank you for paving the way for many many women in the field of sport today. It hasn't been an easy ride, but thank you for never giving up.

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I'm participating in the April A to Z Challenge for 2019 and my theme is Wonder Women.

4 comments:

  1. PT Usha is a legend. Her achievements have inspired thousands of Indian women to take up sports. I remember how she missed the bronze medal by 1/100th of a second in 1984 Olympics and how she won 5 medals in the next event. Awe-inspiring!

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  2. I can never forget P T Usha. She was a huge sporting icon when I was growing up.

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