P.T Usha Never Stopped Running

PT Usha is still best remembered for missing the bronze medal in a 400m hurdles photofinish at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Her moment of heartbreak so came to define her that few people remember that she continued running well into her 30s, broke a national record at 34, and retired at 36 in 1999.

As we talk in the cool, spacious office of the all-girls school, Usha says she succeeded in spite of India’s sporting system. She went to the Olympics with minimal international exposure. She trained on mud tracks, without good gymnasia or body conditioning facilities. She had little expert guidance on practice, strategy or diet, and got very little funding and sponsorship.

Usha decided to start her school to help Indian athletes overcome the shortcomings of the Indian sporting system, and to help them succeed internationally. But between the idea and its execution lay a huge chasm. When she announced her plan, getting financial aid was far tougher than she expected. Usha figured her name would open many doors. Yet, doors were slow to open. There was little government assistance and no private sponsorship, even in a state such as Kerala with a good record of athletics success.

Usha was finally able to get the school off the ground in 2001, but the first years were difficult. The school had to function on cramped rented premises. The accommodation was spartan, and girls had to train on a non-standard 200m mud track in the middle of Koyilandy town, that too in a field open for public use. There wasn’t enough money for good training equipment and nutritious sports diets.

Slowly, things got better. Read more http://bit.ly/1GOkK0n

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