It has been 32 years since the ‘Payyoli Express’ made her appearance at the Moscow Olympics on July 25 in 1980. While for the majority of Indians, competing in an individual track event on the world’s biggest stage remains a distant dream, former sprint queen P T Usha is preparing for a unique ‘double’.
When her protege Tintu Luka competes in the 800 metres race at the Olympic stadium in London on August 8, Usha will be making her coaching debut in the sporting gala which unfolds in London on Friday, cementing her place among the greatest Indian athletes ever. It will be Usha’s second coming at 48 to the Olympics stage after having lent her ears to the starter’s gun for the first time at the age of 16.
“It would be one of the proudest moments in my life and sporting career. I have learnt so many things in these 32 years and it will help Tintu at the Olympic venue. My second debut as a coach is a bit tougher than my debut as an athlete,” Usha, on a short visit to her home in Payyoli, told Express on Tuesday.
Explaining why the coaching job accelerates her heartbeats, she said:
“I could understand how fit I was to perform. As I knew what I had within myself, I was confident of delivering when I entered the track as an athlete. But as a coach, the performance is dependent on another person. As coaches, we can only finetune athletes but the performance lies with what they do on that particular day.”
Usha said she had been following up on the knowledge gained from her coach O M Nambiar.