Usha pins hopes on Neeraj and Hima

Says she doesn’t understand the importance given to coach Galina

It may have been 20 years since she announced her retirement from active athletics, but former sprint queen P.T. Usha has retained her popularity and the respect — through her work at Usha School Athletics in Kozhikode — she receives wherever she goes is one thing which has to be seen to be believed.

In the City for the Little Millennium’s Kids Marathon on Saturday, the 54-year-old spoke about Indian athletics’ chances in the Tokyo Olympics while questioning the undue importance given to the relay teams by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

While Usha hoped Neeraj Chopra (javelin) and Hima Das (400m) would do well in Tokyo, she maintained that it would be difficult as other countries too would be training as hard as these two.

Season yet to start

“The season has not yet started. If you see the performances till now, Neeraj and Hima have done well.

“But it will not be easy to win a medal. [I will] wait for the results before commenting.”

Usha said she didn’t understand the importance given to 400m and relay team foreign coach Galina Bukharina of Russia.

“In our country, more concentration is given only to relays now.

“Whatever they want, AFI is providing it. I don’t know why. It will not help other events if they do that. And whatever the relay coach [Galina] says they [AFI] will do.”

‘Jisna being ignored’

The former athlete lamented that just because Jisna Mathew is training under her, she is being ignored.

“Her [Jisna] only fault is she is not training with Galina. [But] performance must speak,” she said.