Regarded as queen of Indian track and field, P.T. Usha has been associated with Indian athletics since 1979. Hailed as "Sprint Queen", "Golden Girl", "Payyoli Express", "Running Machine" and with many other salutary names, PT Usha is undoubtedly the greatest woman athlete the country has ever produced. She has inspired a generation of young women athletes, to flood the Indian scene and give women`s athletics direction and quality.
In an athletics career spanning nearly two decades, she established seven national records, missed the Olympics Bronze by 1/100th of a second and took part in five editions of the Asian Games including the one in which she won four Gold Medals. No other athlete in India can boast of such a feat. For quite some years her national record in the 400-metre hurdles and she being in the team that holds the record for the 4 x 400 metres relay, which is the best in the continent speaks volumes of the achievement of this legendary athlete.
Born into the family of cloth merchants on 20 May 1964 at Payyoli village of Calicut district in Kerala
, P. T. Usha began her athletics career by winning the school junior championship in 1974. She followed it up by winning four Gold Medals at the National School Meet in 1977-78 and four Gold, one Silver and one Bronze at the National Amateur Meet at Quilon. At the National School Games at Nagpur in 1979, she set new record in three events. Moving to Mercy College in the Palghat and to Providence College in Calicut, She came under the influence of coach O. M. Nambiar who made her helped into a super athlete.
In the 1982 New Delhi Asiad, she managed only silver medals in the 100m and the 200m, but at the Asian Track and Field Championship in Kuwait a year later, Usha took gold in the 400 m with a new Asian record. Between 1983-89, Usha garnered 13 golds at ATF meets. She finished first in the semi-finals in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. She became the first Indian woman and the fifth Indian to reach the final of an Olympic event by winning her 400m hurdles Semi-final.
In the 10th Asian Games held at Seoul in 1986, P.T.Usha won 4 gold and 1 silver medal in the track and field events. Here she created new Asian Games records in all the events she participated. She won five golds at the 6th Asian Track and Field Championship at Jakarta in 1985. Her six medals at the same meet is a record for a single athlete in a single international meet. Usha has won 101 international medals so far. And she was also adjudged the Best Sportsperson of Asia in 1985,1986,and 1989. She was honoured with Arjuna Award
in 1983 followed by the Padma Shri in 1986.