Payyoli Express Unplugged

Legendary athlete PT Usha says future of Indian athletics bright, but need better infrastructure

From early in the morning till noon, while the nip in the air made way for a warm afternoon in Chandigarh, one thing remained constant on PT Usha's face : her smile. Talk to her about athletics and it is enough to make her break into a radiant smile that is so synonymous with her after victory laps on the race tracks. It is her constant endeavour to elevate athletics to another level that makes her such a commendable role model for upcoming athletes. One such initiative- SpeedStar, a talent hunt launched by Kooh Sports- brought her to Chandigarh.

Starting with The Gurukul Global School in Panchkula and then to Yadavindra Public School in Mohali and then finally Ajit Karam Singh International , Usha, popularly known as Payyoli Express, covered the tricity and interacted with the students. Before the inquisitive students shot an array of questions at her, Usha, during an exhibition running competition, shared valuable tips to the runners who were perhaps having their first brush with the sport.

"Never look down when you start the race and don't lose concentration. Run on your toes and never on your heels. Make sure you don't make a false start. These are the basic things which you should keep in mind. Start by racing five minutes a day and then gradually increase to ten and then to 15 minutes," she said while giving demonstration on running styles as the students watched her spell-bounded.

While today was just a demonstration, the test for the aspiring athletes would be on February 2 where trials would be held at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium and three boys and an equal number of girls would be selected during the talent hunt to track India's fastest and youngest 100m running sensation in the Under-12, -14 and -16 age categories. Such six more talented athletes would be selected from ten other cities across India and, on February 10, they will compete in the finale to be held in New Delhi.

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