PT Usha (Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha) is often considered as one of the greatest athletes India ever produced. She is also nicknamed 'Payyoli Express' and 'queen of Indian track and field' for her brilliant performance on the track.
She was noticed by Coach O.M Nambiar in the National School games of 1979 Who trained her for her entire career.
Usha has won multiple medals at the 1979 National Games and inter-state meet of 1980, setting national records.
At the age of 16, P T Usha became the youngest Indian sprinter to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Usha set national records in both 100m and 200m by clocking 11.8s and 24.6s respectively during the interstate meet in Bengaluru in 1981.
Usha broke the 200m record again in 1983, at the Open National Championship at Jamshedpur by clocking 23.9s. She also a set a new record in 400m by clocking 53.6s. In the same year, Usha won the gold in 400 at the Asian Championship held in Kuwait City.
Usha's most remembered performances happened during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and its pre-trials. In a pre-trial, she beat top American sprinter Judi Brown by clocking 55.7s. She had earlier beat Asian Champion M D Valsamma to qualify for the Games. Usha came fourth at the Games final missing the bronze by 1/100th of a second.
Usha set a new Commonwealth record in the heats and semi-final by clocking 56.81s and 55.54s at the Games.
She bagged 4 Gold medals and 1 Silver in the track and field events of the 1986 Asiad Games.
She was felicitated with the Arjuna Award in 1984 and Padma Shri in the same year.