Almost 16 years after she bid farewell to athletics for good, P. T. Usha still remains the most acclaimed Kerala athlete. Strictly going by the medals won on global stage, long jumper Anju Bobby George has her nose in front for the fact that she clinched a bronze medal at the Paris World Athletics Championships in 2003. However, Onmanorama picks out five reasons why the Payyoli Express has been hailed the greatest sportsperson to have emerged from Kerala.
A role model for generations
Usha inspired a generation of boys and girls, by making them realise success on the sporting arena was not beyond their reach if they were willing to sweat it out. Usha and her coach O. M. Nambiar became household names in the 80s and every Kerala girl dreamt of emulating her feats.
Breakthrough achievement in Olympics
At 20, Usha became the first Indian woman to enter the final of an Olympics at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Usha missed a bronze medal in 400m hurdles by one hundredth of a second to Romania's Cristieana Cojocaru.
Put her stamp on the Jakarta Asian Athletics Meet
Usha won five gold medals and a bronze at the Jakarta Asian Athletics Meet in 1985. This was the first instance of an Indian track and field athlete dominating an international event to such an extent.
The Golden Girl in Seoul Asian Games
Usha made the Seoul Asian Games her own with a rich haul of four gold medals and a silver. The images of the Golden Girl posing with Golden Shoe are vivid in the minds of sportslovers.
Usha School of Athletics: passing on her experience
After she quit the sport, Usha was quick to don the role of a coach by launching the Usha School of Athletics in 2002. She is determined to realise her dream of winning an Olympic through her wards. In short, Usha breathes athletics and her devotion towards giving back to the sport, which made her, is truly commendable.