Ushering in a new era in country’s sports administration, the legendary PT Usha was on Saturday elected as the first woman president of Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
The 58-year-old Usha, a multiple Asian Games gold medalist and fourth place finisher in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics 400m hurdles final, was declared elected unopposed for the top post in the polls. The elections were held under the supervision of Supreme Court-appointed retired SC judge L Nageswara Rao. The election of Usha to the top job marked an end to the long-drawn crisis in the faction-ridden IOA, which was warned of a possible suspension by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if elections are not held this month.
The polls were originally due to be held in December 2021. Usha’s anointment to the top post was a forgone
conclusion late last month after she emerged as the lone candidate for the top post.
Nobody was willing to fight against Usha, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in July. Usha, fondly known as the ‘Payyoli Express’, is being seen as a candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had nominated her as a Rajya Sabha member in July.
She also became the first Olympian and first international medallist to head the IOA in its 95-year-old history, adding another feather in her cap after dominating Indian and Asian athletics for two decades before retiring in 2000 with a bagful of international medals.
Usha is the first sportsperson to have represented the country and also become IOA chief since Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, who played a Test match in 1934. Singh was the third IOA president who held office from 1938 to 1960.