Legendary Indian athlete PT Usha was Monday elected President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Usha missed out on the bronze medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Games by 1/100th of a second, but he remains one of the symbols of the national sport.
Nicknamed the ‘Payyoli Express’ – after the town of her birth in the southern state of Kerala – she dominated Indian athletics for nearly two decades, winning 11 medals at the Asian Games including four golds in Seoul in 1986, before retiring. in 2000.
Her election – officially scheduled for December 10 – marks a step-change in the organization of Indian sport, which has been largely run by administrators for decades.
The Maharaja of Patiala, Yadavendra Singh, who played in one cricket test in 1934, was the president of the IOA from 1938 to 1960.
A series of bureaucrats and state-level cricketers followed, with veteran manager Narinder Batra resigning as IOA chairman earlier this year after a Delhi court ordered him to step down from the position he took over in December 2017.
An interim president took office before the Supreme Court of India ordered new elections.
Union Law Minister and Ex sports Minister Kiren Rijiju congratulated the veteran sprinter on her appointment as chair of the IOA. On November 26, the 58-year-old took to social media to let everyone know that she has filed her candidacy for the top job in the IOA elections next month.
The deadline to submit nomination papers for the IOA election is November 27. IOA re-election officer Umesh Sinha did not receive any nominations for the top post until November 27. However, 24 candidates submitted their nominations for various positions on Sunday.
“Congratulations to the legendary golden girl, Smt. PT Usha on being elected President of the Indian Olympic Association. I also congratulate all the sporting heroes of our country on becoming the holders of the prestigious IOA offices! A nation that is proud of them!” tweeted Rijiju. Sports Authority in India (SAI) also retweeted Rijiju’s tweet.
One of India’s most decorated athletes, Usha has won four gold and seven silver medals at the Asian Games.
Usha is among the eight Olympians of Outstanding Merit (SOMs) selected by the newly elected Olympians Committee to vote during the December 10 elections for the new Executive Committee of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
The other seven SOMs are Yogeshwar Dutt (wrestling) MM Somaya (hockey), Rohit Rajpal (tennis), Akhil Kumar (boxing), Suma Shirur (archery), Aparna Popat (badminton), Dola Banerjee (archery).
On November 15, the Supreme Court said its orders for the adoption of the constitution and balloting of members of the Executive Committee of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) must be strictly followed.
The panel said that there is a broad consensus regarding the memorandum submitted by Justice Rao which stipulates that the elections will be held on December 10.
(With inputs from agencies)
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