KOZHIKODE: A festive mood prevailed at the Azhakodi Devi temple as the Indian track queen P.T.Usha tied the nuptial knot on Thursday morning.

The over 3000-strong gathering including many Vips and sports celebrities jostled with each other to get a glimpse of the pride of Indian athletics dressed in a light brown silk saree.

Video cameras whirred and flash bulbs popped as M.V.Srinivasan a sub-inspector with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) tied the “Tali” (sacred nuptial necklace) and exchanged garlands with her.

Soon after the brief traditional ceremony Indian Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar’s telegraphic greetings were read out to the couple.

The youngest-ever Indian athlete to compete in an Olympics (Moscow) “the Payyoli express” along with “Sreeni” a former state Kabaddi player joined the guests for a multi-dish feast. Usha was flanked by her coach and mentor O.M.Nambiar to whom she has credited all her glory.

Kerala sports minister Neelalochandasan Nadar the sports authority of India (SAI) director general A K Pandya railway sports control board (RSCB) secretary Amrit Mathur and Usha’s track mates Shiny Wilson Padmini Thomas and Vandana Rao were among those present.

“I have given up the track for good. From now on I will concentrate on coaching young boys and girls” said Usha who has won more than 30 golds at international meets

“I have enjoyed all this fame and but now I want to enjoy a home and family” she said.

“I had worked very hard for my success. Now I will try hard to be a good life-partner”

Usha who began running with her friends in the chase for “falling Mangoes” in her village Payyoli first represented India in an international meet in 1979 but had to wait till 1983 for her first gold in a major competition —in Kuwait.

Her greatest moment in track life came when she reached the final of the 400km hurdles in Los Angeles (1984) but missed the bronze by a hundredth of a second.

In the 1985 Jakarta Asian track and field meet Usha won an unprecedented five gold medals and one bronze

Known as ‘P.T.’ Abroad Usha collected four gold’s in the 1986 Seoul Asian games and three in the Singapore Asian track and field meet a year later.

The greatest-ever athlete of the country who wanted to hang up her boots after the New Delhi Asian track and field meet where she won four gold’s and proved her critics wrong but bowed to the pressures bid Adieu to her glorious track life with three ‘silver medals at Beijing.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 3, 1991