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'I feel something is missing in my life if I do not run'
- George Iype
Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha needs no introduction. She has been running for the past 23 years bringing fame and glory to Indians. But the difficult, competitive world of athletics has not brought fatigue in Usha, who turned 36 in May.
The only time the Payyoli Express feels tired is when people mob her. So these days Usha does not get out of Ushas, her home at Payyoli, some 35 kilometres away from Kozhikode.
Nearly a month after she retired from the active world of athletics, Usha has quickly turned out to be a seasoned housewife, cooking special food for her husband, preparing her son Ujjwal for his school exams and taking care of her aged mother.
Today, Usha is a symbol of success, perseverance and confidence. In her long athletic career, she has been greeted with bouquet and brickbats, admiration and abuses, encouragement and humiliation. She has never been emotionally susceptible to provocative remarks from fellow athletes and coaches. Signs that made her stand alone -- tall in the world of athletics.
But Usha was distraught when locals hurled stones at her house, called her anti-national and pasted posters all over Payyoli soon after her disastrous performance in the 1988 Olympics.
Her exploits at the track have brought her moments of glory and depression. But can she really retire from athletics? "No, I canít," pat comes the reply. "I feel something is missing in my life if I am not running," she adds.
Great athletes can never retire. So these days, she just takes off with her husband V Sreenivasan to the beach nearby to run for a mile or two, reliving the past and relishing the spirit of athletic life.
When rediff.com tracked her down to the remote village of Payyoli, Usha was getting restless. Southern Railways, where she works, had asked her to be ready to leave for Sydney to watch the Olympics extravaganza.
In a country that is increasingly getting deprived of sporting talent thanks to lack of modern facilities, Usha has a vision. She will soon start the Usha School of Athletics to teach and train young Indian talents to make a mark in the international sporting arena.
Usha inspired and enthused a generation of girls and
boys to plunge into the world of athletics, and continues to
remain the future of hope for aspiring Indian Olympians.
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