Under the stern eyes of Usha S Nair, one can’t be slack during training, leave alone the possibility of bunking the session. For, it is because of these high training standards set by this pioneer cycling coach of SAI-LNCPE that the state has made its presence felt in the national cycling circuits.
With a life dedicated to pedalling, this unassuming, yet demanding coach, who was one among the first women cycling coaches churned out by NIS, Patiala, has been the propelling force behind making the girl cyclists from the state a force to reckon with in the national arena.
“Our girls are very strong and they are the best in the business in the country now. Kerala girls usually are short-statured, but then they have the spirit to excel in competitions,” says Usha, all the while lamenting over the lacklustre performance of the boys. Even while making this comment, she was seen admonishing the lads who were late to arrive for training. “This isn’t right. To start the training at 4.30 pm, I was here even before 4.15 pm and they (the trainees) are late by a good 30 minutes. Only by showing dedication and hard work can they improve,” she blasts out. And for those who are aware of her dedication to the sport, this approach is not surprising.
“Earlier, the cyclists were more dedicated. But now that isn’t the case. Under the ‘Come and Play Scheme’, more children turn up for practice, but there is visibly a shortage of talent and dedication,” feels Usha. There are ample job opportunities for cyclists nowadays. So, more people are entering the field, she adds.
The entry of Usha to the world of cycling was also accidental. She was a national football player and it was sheer curiosity that lured her to grip the handle. In 1978, she joined KSEB and then did her diploma from NIS, Patiala, in 1985. Her stint with SAI began in 1986 and she was the national coach for the next six years.
She took charge of the training at SAI in 1992. The resume of the cycling lady is quite astonishing. She was the national coach of the team that toured Indonesia for the 29th Asian Cycling Championship and also trained Rajani Ramanan, the first cyclist to win a medal in the Asian Championship.
Currently, nine of her students are in the national camp. But the highly revered lady feels that she has a lot more to offer.