Athletics has been a big thorn in India’s flesh at the Olympics. We have struggled a lot in track and field events. But off late some experts have seen our athletes improve. The expert is none other than PT Usha who has experienced the pressure of an Olympics and would have clinched a medal if luck was on her side.
PT Usha missed the Bronze medal at the 400m women’s hurdles by a hundredth of a second at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. It was a benchmark for the upcoming athletes to at least reach the level which she did. While the Olympics were a disappointment, the legendary athlete won bags full of medals at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and other continental tournaments.
Speaking about the improvement in our track and field athletes of this year who are headed to Tokyo, PT Usaha was full of optimism. “The performances of our athletes while achieving Olympic qualification standard was heartening and if they can better those performances, it will be really good,” Usha told indianexpress.com.
She went on to specify the names of athletes like Kamalpreet Kaur in women’s discussion throw, Neeraj Chopra in men’s javelin throw, Tajinderpal Singh Toor in men’s shot put and M Sree Shankar in men’s long jump. He also praised the men’s 4x400m relay and 4x400m mixed relay teams.
Speaking about Kamalpreet Kaur who impressed everyone with a throw of 66.59m in the Indian Grand Prix-4, Usha said, “That itself is among the top. If Kamalpreet can repeat or better her performance in Tokyo, it can land her in a good place.”
Consistency has to be the keyword for Usha who herself always tried to remain consistent with her performances. Next, she spoke about Neeraj Chopra and admitted that the javelin thrower is a prospect for the country. “That way Neeraj Chopra is a prospect. The javelin thrower is looking bright to shine in Tokyo,” Usha pointed out
Asian champion Tajinderpal Singh also impressed at the Indian Grand Prix-4 after he threw the shot put recording a distance of 21.49m. The throw confirmed his selection for the Tokyo Olympics. Usha feels that Tajinderpal can finish at the top if he can keep up his form. “That performance (by (Tajinderpal) is good and if he can maintain his form, he can also finish at the top,” she added.
Lastly, he highlighted the challenges that the athletes will go through in these testing times. He highlighted how much of their morale will be down as there will be no support on the stands as spectators are banned due to COVID-19. So she feels that it will be different from any other Olympics that happened in the past.
“Tokyo Olympic Games will be different in many ways. Athletes have to perform before an empty stadium as spectators have been banned due to the surge in Covid-19. I don’t think protocol will allow the athletes to mingle like in early editions. Japan, being hosts too, will do well,” Usha concluded.