Here to serve athletes, says PT Usha after assuming office as IOA president
In a very short interaction, Usha spoke about her long association with sport, first as a player and then as a coach and as an administrator.
Published: 11th December 2022 08:01 AM | Last Updated: 11th December 2022 08:23 AM | A+A A-
NEW DELHI: Two things stood out when the newly-elected executive Committee members of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) sat on the dais at the Olympic Bhawan conference hall here on Saturday. There were more women representatives and athletes than any other EC before.
There is a bit of history and a lot of expectations as PT Usha, an Olympian and a multiple Asian Games medallist, assumed office as IOA president on Saturday. The 58-year-old track legend will be the first woman president of the IOA and, of course, the first Olympian too. With top sportspersons — including Olympic medallists — occupying almost half of the executive committee of 15, a new chapter has been ushered in Indian sports administration.
In a very short interaction, Usha spoke about her long association with sport, first as a player and then as a coach and as an administrator. She hoped to help athletes grow. “Only for 13 years I have not been associated with sports but after that, I have been always associated with sports as an athlete, a coach, as an administrator in different roles, but I never thought that one day I shall be an IOA chief or a Member of Parliament,” she said. “All because of sports I am here. My special thanks to the newly-constituted Athletics Commission, Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit and National Sports Federations who asked me to file nominations and they supported me.”
Usha said she would like to address issues of sportspersons and would want them to do well on the international stage. “My team and I, with our collective efforts, will do our best for the betterment of sports. I always wanted to fly our tri-colour high in the international arena,” she said. “We will seek the opinion of associations, players and coaches and we all will work together to bring more medals for our country.”
The newly-constituted EC and other members of the IOA will have a lot on their plate. The accounts (which are still pending) of the IOA need to be settled. The IOA was not functioning as a house since last year when the matter went to court in November.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey, who will be the joint secretary, took most of the questions on behalf of the committee and said the IOA would try to resolve issues that have been plaguing the Association. He also said that the EC meeting will be convened soon and one agenda will be the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer, a new post created as per the amended constitution. The EC meeting is expected to be conducted soon.
Usha said that if their athletes face any problems, they can approach the IOA and they will address them. “As an athlete, we all know the requirements of sportspersons and if they are facing problems, they can come to us.”
London Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang, who is a vice president, felt sportspersons would bring in their experience into administration. “As sportspersons, we put in a lot of effort in our game and this will be translated into something that will be a bit more administrative. But as sportspersons, we are our own administrators. So that experience will definitely help and the experience will be a memorable one for everyone.”
Yogeshwar Dutt, part of the EC as an SOM nomination, said that sport is in safe hands with more sportspersons in administration and with their experience, will be able to help them.
The IOA election was supposed to be held last year but was dragged to court. There were two factions in the IOA — one led by former IOA chief Narinder Batra and the other by Rajeev Mehta — and finally the Supreme Court stepped in to amend the constitution.
The one-member committee of former retired judge L Nageswara Rao amended the new constitution and accordingly the elections took place under returning office Umsesh Sinha. In between, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) threatened to withdraw recognition if a democratically elected body is not placed before the December 5-7 executive committee meeting. However, the stakeholders managed to convince the IOC, who along with the Olympic Council of Asia, vetted the amended constitution.
Yet, the road will not be easy. All eyes will be on the sportspersons and how they work. There are big issues in the IOA. Also, the members who have been ousted are expected not to sit still for too long. One sportsperson said that the former administrators too will be helping them out.