PT Usha becomes first woman IOA chief; says 'I feel the pain of an athlete'
Ushering in a new era in the country’s sports administration, the legendary PT Usha was on Saturday (December 10) elected as the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
The 58-year-old Usha, a multiple Asian Games gold medallist and fourth-place finisher in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics 400m hurdles final, was declared elected unopposed for the top post in the polls.
Also read: PT Usha nominated to Rajya Sabha
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.
After her election, Usha said in a Twitter post, “Humbled and touched by all the messages over the last few days over my election as the President of the IOA.”
“Through the experiences of my journey, I know very well the value of this post. I feel the pain of an athlete, and that of a coach. Above all, about the role of a true admin.
“I look forward to upholding the Olympic values and working with national and international sporting federations to ensure India propels forward in our quest of being a global sporting powerhouse,” she added.
Thank you for all the messages of support and good wishes. Looking forward to the times ahead! 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/TRlbonoNpQ
— P.T. USHA (@PTUshaOfficial) December 10, 2022
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 (BJP) 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.