Pt Usha Biography
Pilavullakandi Thekkeraparambil Usha is an Indian track and field athlete who competed in the past but has since retired. She was born on June 27, 1964. She was born in the district of Kuttali in Kozhikode in the state of Kerala. Since 1979, she has been actively involved in Indian athletics. She has been awarded four gold medals and seven silver medals at the Asian level. She is frequently referred to as the “Queen of Indian track and field.” On July 6, 2022, she was nominated for a seat in the Rajya Sabha by the previous President, Ram Nath Kovind.
At a sports prize-distribution event in 1977, Usha was discovered for the first time by an athletics coach by the name of O. M. Nambiar.  In an interview in the year 2000 with Rediff.com, he recalled saying: “The first thing that struck me about Usha was her trim figure, and I was immediately drawn to her quick gait. I had no doubt that she was capable of becoming an excellent sprinter.” That same year, he started working as her coach. Quick results came when she won six medals at the inter-state meet for juniors held in Kollam in 1978. She won gold medals in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 60 meter hurdles, and high jump events. She also won silver in the long jump event and bronze in the 4 x 100 meter relay. She came away from the annual Kerala State college meet with a total of 14 medals. She went on to win many medals at the 1979 National Games as well as the 1980 National inter-state meet, where she also set a number of new records for the meet.
In 1981, when competing in the senior interstate meet in Bangalore, Usha broke new national marks in both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash with times of 11.8 seconds and 24.6 seconds, respectively.
She ran the 100 meters in 11.95 seconds and the 200 meters in 25.32 seconds, earning her silver medals at the Asian Games held in New Delhi in 1982. She ran the 400 meters in 53.6 seconds, which was a new national record, and she ran the 200 meters in 23.9 seconds, which was the previous national record. Both of these records were established at the Open National Championships in Jamshedpur in 1983. In the same year, she won the gold medal in the 400-meter event at the Asian Championships held in Kuwait City.
1984 Los Angeles Olympics
The Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984 provided Usha with her finest moment. She entered the competition on the strength of a string of strong performances that she had turned in throughout the year at competitions such as the New Delhi inter-state meet and the Mumbai Open National Championships. However, she ran poorly in both the 100-meter and 200-meter events at the World Championships in Moscow, so she decided to focus on the 400-meter hurdles instead. She qualified for the Olympics by winning the trials that were held in Delhi and defeating the Asian Champion M. D. Valsamma. She won another pre-Olympics trial with a time of 55.7 seconds, which was faster than the top American sprinter Judi Brown. She ran the heats of the competition at the Games in 56.81 seconds and the semi-final in 55.54 seconds, establishing a new record for the Commonwealth as she headed into the final. In the championship, she finished fourth with a time of 55.42 seconds, which was one hundredth of a second slower than the eventual bronze medalist. This occurred as a result of one of her competitors getting a false start, which was claimed to have “broken her rhythm” since “she went off the blocks a touch slower at the restart.” In other words, the false start caused her to start the race more slowly.
Usha took home six medals overall from the 1985 Jakarta Asian Championships, including five gold and one bronze. She won the 100-meter dash in 11.64 seconds, the 200-meter dash in 23.05 seconds, the 400-meter dash in 52.62 seconds, which was an Asian record, and the 400-meter hurdles in 56.64 seconds, with the final two events being 35 minutes apart.  Her final medal was a bronze in the 4 x 100-meter relay, which she competed in after winning her fifth and final gold medal. In doing so, she established a new mark for the maximum number of gold medals won at a single competition in the annals of these championships.  After her first two victories, she tied the record for most wins in Asia, which was previously held by Chi Cheng of Taiwan. She went on to improve her previous record in the 400 meters a week later at the 1985 Canberra World Cup, when she finished seventh with a time of 51.61 seconds. At the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, she came very close to matching the performance she had at the Jakarta Championships. She finished second in the 100-meter race with a timing of 11.67 seconds, falling short of Lydia de Vega who won the gold. All three of these times set new records for the competition: the winning time in the 200 meters was 23.44, the winning time in the 400 meters was 52.16, and the winning time in the 4 x 400 meter relay was 3:34.58. While she was competing in the Games, British athletics coach Jim Alford had this to say about her: “Usha is an athlete of the highest caliber, a fierce competitor, and a fantastic runner to watch. She possesses every ounce of potential. If properly mentored, she has the potential to excel at the highest levels.”
I never had any interest in competing in the Olympics. My only goal was to maintain improving upon my previous performance. I never competed against anyone with the intention of winning. —P. T. Usha
Usha won a total of 13 gold medals at ATF competitions between the years 1983 and 1989. Usha won five medals in the track and field competitions at the 10th Asian Games, which were held in Seoul in the year 1986. She won four gold medals and one silver medal. Additionally, she was victorious at the 6th Asian Track and Field Championship, which took place in Jakarta in the year 1985 and awarded her five gold medals. The number of medals she won at a single international competition is a record for a single athlete competing in that competition.
At the moment, she serves as the head of a committee for the Indian Talent organization, which is responsible for running the National Level Indian Talent Olympiad tests in schools all over India.
- At the 1998 Asian Championships in Athletics, she competed in the 4 x 100-meter relay for India alongside Valdivel Jayalakshmi, Rachita Mistry, and E.B. Shyla. Her team won the gold medal and went on to set the current national record of 44.43 seconds, which is still the fastest time ever recorded for the event.
She studied in Providence Women’s College in Kozhikode.
Usha married V. Srinivasan, an inspector with Central Industrial Security Force, in 1991. The couple has a son.
Currently, she is a member of the Board of Advisors of India’s International Movement to Unite Nations (I.I.M.U.N.)
Awards and honours
- Honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) conferred by Kannur University in 2000
- Honorary doctorate (D.Sc.) conferred by IIT Kanpur in 2017
- Honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) conferred by the University of Calicut in 2018
- IAAF Veteran Pin in 2019
- Padma Shri in 1985