PT Usha: The Story of Sprint Queen of India

P T Usha was one of India's best-known women athletes. P.T. Usha was fondly called the "Payyoli express" and the golden girl because of her awesome speed on the track.

PT Usha: The Story of Sprint Queen of India
P. T. Usha Biography

P. T. Usha Biography

P. T. Usha was born on 27-06-1964 in Payyoli, Kozhikode in the state of Kerala, India. She is an Indian Athlete (Track & Field) & Sprinter who was awarded Padma Shree in 1985.

Other Name: Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha, Queen of Indian Track and Field, Golden Girl, Payyoli Express
Other Professions: Sprinter

PT Usha ( PT Usha's full name: Payyoli Tevaraparampil Usha), at 56, is still one of the most talked-about track and field athletes of India of all time. This legendary athlete has been a constant in our G.K books for years. Not only she is a treasure, we Indians will always be proud of but now as a coach, she is helping other aspiring athletes to take on her legacy and shine bright as she did and still does. In fact, Jisna Mathew, a trainee at Usha’s Athletics School, has been clinching medals, she recently won a Gold at the Asian Junior Athletics Championship.

With over 100 medals to showcase, she is the queen of track and field. Remember while growing up how we referred to fast runners by their name P.T Usha (1982 Asian games gold medalist). She is one of India’s best-known women athletes with a 2-decade long career and people call her with love “Payyoli Express“.


  • Usha has won 102 national /International medals and awards throughout her illustrious career.
  • She won 13 Gold medals in the Asian Championships and a total of 33 International medals.
  • She received the prestigious Arjuna Award and Padma Shree in 1984 for showing outstanding performance in sports.
  • A year later in 1985, she was adjudged as the best women athlete at the Jakarta Asian Athlete meet.
  • To add to her glory, In 1986 at the Seoul Asian Games, the Indian Olympic association awarded her with the Adidas Golden Shoe and named her the Sportsperson of the century.

P. T. Usha Biography

PT Usha Biography- “Payyoli Express

PT Usha’s struggle and achievements are unparalleled. She was born in a poor family in Meladi-Payyoli, Kerala. Despite the poverty and lack of nourishment, Usha showed early aptitude in sports. Realizing her talent, the Kerala Government awarded her a scholarship of Rs. 250 to Payyoli express.

She had to go to a special sports school at Kannur for education and training. The turning point in Usha’s life was when O. M. Nambiar, her coach throughout, spotted her in 1976 at the National School Games. He realized Usha’s great potential and trained her to be the Indian legend she is today.

“At this age, she has exhibited great courage and confidence. I didn’t see any sign of nervousness during the event. The ability to push hard in the closing stages of the race gives her an edge,”

PT Usha started her international career in 1980 at the Moscow, Olympics. But disappointment struck as she lost bronze by 0.01 seconds. She proved her real mettle when she won silver medals in 100m and 200m events at the 9th Asian Games in 1982 in New Delhi.

In the 1985 Jakarta Asian Meet, PT Usha earned her title of the sprint queen as she won five gold medals (in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles, and the 4x400m relay) and a bronze in the 100m relay. In the 1986 Seoul Asian games, Usha notched up four Gold medals and silver.

P. T. Usha Biography

Turning Point

As a child, Usha showed an early aptitude for sports. This won her a scholarship of Rs. 250 from the Kerala government and led Usha to a special sports school at Canmore. In 1979 Usha participated in the National School Games. It was here that O. M. Nambiar (who coached her throughout most of her career) spotted her. He realized that this girl had great potential. This proved the turning point of her illustrious carrier.

PT Usha at Los Angeles Olympics 1984

India at the 1984 Olympics competed but couldn’t manage to win a medal. However, there’s a lot that happened. Shiny Abraham, an Indian athlete reached the semi-finals of 800m and became the first Indian to reach the semi-finals of an Olympic event. She didn’t make it to the finals but what an achievement to have, given that she was the National champion in 800m for 14 years! PT Usha had both the best and a little tough time during the 1984 Olympics. She came 4th after losing the bronze to Cristieana Cojocaru by 1/100th of a second in Women’s 400 m hurdles.

Indian Women’s 4x400m relay team which included P.T Usha, Shiny Abraham, M.D Valsamma, and Vandana Rao, also reached the finals but finished last.

P. T. Usha Complete Bio & Career

P. T. Usha was arguably one of the country’s most renowned women athletes. She virtually ruled the field and track events for almost 20 years of her decorated career. P.T. Usha was nicknamed the "Payyoli Express". She was also referred to as the golden girl because of her unbelievable speed on the track.
Throughout her illustrious career, Usha won several national and international awards. In a career spanning almost twenty years, she has won as many as thirty-three international medals which also include thirteen Gold medals in the Asian Championships and Asian Games. She missed an Olympic Bronze medal by 1/100th of a second in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Usha for her sincere efforts and perseverance have won around thirty International Awards, for her distinction in Athletics. In the 1986 Asian Games that were held in Seoul, Korea, Usha emerged as the proud winner of the Adidas Golden Shoe award for the best athlete. The biggest achievement of her career came when she was named the 'Sportsperson of the Century' by the IOA (IndianOlympicAssociation).
While she was a child, she showed a flair for sports. Her will won her a grant of INR 250 from her state Kerala's government and made Usha train at a notable sports school at Canmore. Usha participated for the first time in the National School Games in 1979. It was during this time that Coach O. M. Nambiar spotted her. He was sure that this girl had great potential and he started coaching her. This was the turning point of her decorated career. She has published her autobiography, Golden Girl: The Autobiography of P. T. Usha.

The simple yet determined

Usha settled down and married V. Srinivasa, an inspector with Central Industry Security Force in 1991. She was blessed with a boy, Ujjwal. In fact, at one point in time, she returned back to the track after a gap of 4 years and won a silver medal at the Hiroshima Asiad!

P. T. Usha Biography

The illustrious career of P.T Usha speaks for itself. She has been the finest women athlete India has ever produced. We don’t normally meet people who have done so much in their lives and who could inspire you to become something and push you continuously. 

Ups And Downs

The illustrious carrier of PT Usha speaks for itself. She has been the finest women athlete India has ever produced. Throughout her carrier, Usha never looked back. In fact, at one point in time, she returned back to track after a gap of 4 years and won a silver medal at the Hiroshima Asiad! But the greatest disappointment came at the Los Angeles Olympics, where Usha missed the bronze medal by just 1/100th of a second. This was a heartbreak for the whole country.

Honors & Awards

Arjuna Award National Sports Award 1983 Sports
Padma Shri Civilian Award 1985 Arts

For her contribution to the field of athletics, she was conferred with the Arjuna Award in the year 1983. She was also conferred with the Padma Shri Award in 1985.

P. T. Usha Biography

  • Honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) conferred by Kannur University in 2000
  • Honorary doctorate (D.Sc.) conferred by IIT Kanpur in 2017
  • Honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) conferred by the University of Calicut in 2018
  • IAAF Veteran Pin in 2019
  • Padma Shri in 1985

P. T. Usha Family, Relatives, and Other Relations

P. T. Usha was born to E.P.M. Paithal and T. V. Lakshmi. She has two sisters named Shobha, Suma, and a brother named Pradeep. She is married to V Srinivasan since 1991. The couple has a son named Ujjwal Srinivasan, who was born in 1992.

P. T. Usha Biography

PT Usha – Now

  • Recently, Usha joined the Swachh Bharat Mission, initiated by our P.M, Narendra Modi.
  • She also took the initiative to support the flood-affected state- of Kerala.
  • P.T Usha has shown us to never stop even after reaching the top. This legend will surely stay our nation’s pride forever. We hope to see more talented athletes like Jisna coming from Usha’s Athletics school in the coming future.