P.T. Usha: The Payyoli Express

The Indian athlete who is nicknamed the “Payyoli Express” is P.T. Usha. 

Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha, better known as P.T. Usha, is a retired Indian track and field athlete who is widely regarded as one of the greatest female athletes in the country. She is renowned for her exceptional speed and determination, earning her the nickname “Payyoli Express”.

Early Life and Athletic Career

Born on June 27, 1964, in Payyoli, Kerala, Usha’s athletic prowess emerged early in her childhood. She showcased remarkable speed and agility, participating in various school-level sports competitions. Her talent caught the attention of O.M. Nambiar, a renowned athletics coach, who took her under his wing.

Under Nambiar’s guidance, Usha’s athletic career flourished. She began competing at national and international levels, breaking records and establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with. Her most notable achievements include:

  • Asian Games: Five bronze medals (1982, 1986) and one silver medal (1986)
  • Asian Championships: Four gold medals (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989) and one silver medal (1987)
  • National Games: Over 20 gold medals

Breaking Barriers and Inspiring Generations

Usha’s success extended beyond the track. She became a symbol of hope and inspiration for women in India, demonstrating that they could achieve excellence in any field. Her accomplishments shattered societal stereotypes and paved the way for future generations of female athletes.

Legacy and Recognition

Usha’s contributions to Indian sports have been widely recognized and celebrated. She has received numerous awards and honors, including:

  • Arjuna Award (1983)
  • Padma Shri (1984)
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (1985)
  • Padma Bhushan (2000)
  • Olympic Order (2000)
  • IAAF World Athletics Lifetime Achievement Award (2019)

In addition to these accolades, Usha has also been conferred with honorary doctorates from several universities. She continues to inspire and motivate aspiring athletes, serving as a role model for their unwavering dedication and pursuit of excellence.

P.T. Usha remains actively engaged in various spheres, contributing to the growth and development of Indian sports. Here’s an overview of her current endeavors:

President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA):

In December 2022, PT Usha was elected as the first female president of the Indian Olympic Association, a significant milestone in Indian sports governance. She is committed to streamlining the organization, strengthening its infrastructure, and fostering fair play and ethical practices.

Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha:

Nominated to the Rajya Sabha in July 2022, PT Usha is using her position to advocate for sports development, gender equality, and youth empowerment. She actively participates in parliamentary debates and discussions, contributing her expertise and insights to policy formulation.

Promoting Athletics and Coaching:

PT Usha continues to be deeply involved in the world of athletics, running her own sports academy in Kerala, the Usha School of Athletics. She nurtures young talent, providing coaching, mentorship, and a supportive environment to aspiring athletes.

Mentoring and Inspiring Generations:

PT Usha’s influence extends beyond her formal roles. She is a respected mentor and role model for aspiring athletes, sharing her experiences, imparting valuable lessons, and motivating them to pursue their dreams with unwavering dedication.

Promoting Women’s Empowerment:

PT Usha remains a vocal advocate for women’s empowerment in sports. She encourages girls and women to participate in sports, challenging societal norms and inspiring them to achieve their full potential.

PT Usha’s commitment to sports development and her dedication to inspiring future generations make her a true champion for Indian athletics. Her legacy continues to shape the landscape of Indian sports, inspiring athletes and promoting the values of excellence, perseverance, and determination.