It doesn’t get bigger than the Olympics

PT Usha | Updated on January 27, 2018


My romance with the Olympic Games began in 1980. No, actually it began earlier, while was I studying in Class VI. There was a chapter on Olympics in our syllabus.

That was the first time I was hearing about this great event. I was fascinated.

But just six years later, there I was in Moscow, representing India at the Olympics! My events were 100m and 200m. I finished sixth in the heats of both events; I wasn’t expecting anything more.

But I had come a long way by the time of the Los Angeles Games of 1984. This time, I knew I was going to last well beyond the heats; I wanted a medal in the 400m hurdles. I was confident that I could do it; my timings weren’t bad compared to the world’s top runners.

I had run only two races in the 400m hurdles event before Los Angeles, but that did not bother me at all. After beating Judy Brown of the US, one of the medal favourites, in the semi-final, I knew I was capable of realising my dream of an Olympic medal.

But in the final, I could come only fourth, missing the bronze by one-hundredth of a second. After the race was over, it was announced over the public system that I had won the bronze, but the correction came later: the medal went to Cristieana Cojocaru of Romania.

I will always regret that I could not become the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in athletics despite coming so close. Yet, I will always cherish my fourth place. Because I did it at the Olympics.

For an athlete, nothing is bigger than the Olympics. It continues to amaze me. After Los Angeles, I competed in Seoul and Atlanta. In fact, except for the Bejing Games of 2008, I have been to every Olympics since Moscow.

In 2012, I went to London as Tintu Luka’s coach. She did well too, reaching the semi-finals of the 800m. I think she can do even better in Rio, where another ward of mine, Jisna Mathew, too will run for India.

I am looking forward to the Rio Olympics. It is nice to see so many Indians qualify. I think India has good chances in shooting, badminton, wrestling and tennis. We can expect two or three Indians to make it to the athletics final too.

I also look forward to watching some of the best athletes in action in Rio. I have been fortunate to witness some astonishing performances at various Olympic stages. I have seen Usain Bolt, Edwin Moses, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, Florence Griffith Joyner…

I also saw India winning our last hockey gold medal, in Moscow.

(as told to PK Ajith Kumar)

Published on August 05, 2016

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