The legendary PT Usha is all set to become the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as she emerges as the sole candidate for the top post for the December 10 elections.
58-year-old Usha, multiple Asian Games gold medalists and fourth-place finisher in the 1984 Olympics 400m hurdles final, filed her nomination papers for the top job on Sunday along with her team for various positions .
The last day for filing nomination papers for the IOA elections ended on Sunday. IOA elections returning officer Umesh Sinha did not receive any nominations on Friday and Saturday but 24 candidates filed nominations for various posts on Sunday.
Ms. Usha, a top sprinter of her era, was also elected as one of the eight Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit (SOM) by the Athletes Commission of the IOA, making her a member of the electoral college.
He will also be the first Olympian and first international medalist to lead the IOA in its 95-year history, adding another feather to its cap after dominating Indian and Asian athletics for two decades before retiring in 2000 with a bagful of international medals.
Ms. Usha was the first sportsperson to represent the country and was also the IOA president since Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, who played in a Test match in 1934. Singh was the third IOA president who served from 1938 to 1960.
There will be contests for a post of vice president (female), joint secretary (female). There are 12 candidates in the fray for four members of the executive council.
IOA polls will be held to elect a president, a senior vice-president, two vice-presidents (one male and one female), one treasurer, two joint secretaries (one male and one female), six other members of the Executive Council, out. of which two (one male and one female) must be from the elected SOMs.
Two members of the Executive Council (one male and one female) will be representatives of the Athletes’ Commission.
Ajay Patel of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is set to become the senior vice-president as he is also the only candidate for the post.
Olympic medalist shooter Gagan Narang is the only candidate for the position of a male vice president. Two candidates – Rajlaxmi Singh Deo, Alaknanda Ashok – have, however, filed nominations for the sole post of female vice-president.
Indian Weightlifting Federation president Sahdev Yadav will be elected unopposed as treasurer.
All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey will be the male joint secretary while there are three candidates – Alaknanda Ashok, Shalini Thakur Chawla and Suman Kaushik – for the post of the lone female joint secretary.
Olympic medalist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and archer Dola Banerjee will be the male and female representatives of the eight SOMs on the executive council.
Twelve candidates, however, filed nominations for the remaining four members of the executive council. They are Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan, Cyrus Poncha, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Bhupender Singh Bajwa, Rohit Rajpal, Amitabh Sharma, Shalini Thakur Chawla, Prashant Khushwaha, Vitthal Shirgaonkar, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Digvijay Chautala and Harjinder Singh.
Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be done on Tuesday and the valid nominee list will be announced the next day. Withdrawal of candidature can be done from December 1-3 and the final list of candidates will be placed on December 4.
Ms. Usha, popularly known as ‘Payyoli Express’, is seen as a candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which nominated her as a Rajya Sabha member in July.
Recently, a similar situation arose in the AIFF when Chaubey – a BJP leader from West Bengal and a former goalkeeper – entered the fray as a surprise candidate in the elections held under the supervision of the Supreme Court and took the top job
Ms. Usha is one of the most decorated Indian athletes, having won 11 medals, including four golds at the Asian Games from 1982 to 1994.
He won all four golds at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games – 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay – and also took silver in the 100m.
Ms. won. Usha won 100m and 200m medals at the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games. He also won a phenomenal 23 medals, including 14 gold, at the Asian Championships from 1983 to 1998, together in the 100m, 200m, 400m hurdles, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay.
But she is best remembered for missing a medal in the Los Angeles Olympics 400m hurdles final, where she was beaten by Romania’s Cristieana Cojocaru by one hundredth of a second.
The IOA elections are being held under the supervision of SC-designate retired apex court judge L Nageswara Rao under the new constitution prepared by him.
The IOA adopted the new constitution on November 10 after getting approval from the international committee.
The 77-strong IOA electoral college has nearly 25% former athletes with a host of current and former sportspersons, including Olympic medalists PV Sindhu, Gagan Narang, Sakshi Malik, Yogeshwar Dutt and MM Somaya.
There were 66 members from 33 National Sports Federations who nominated one man and one woman each, eight SOMs (four men and four women), two from the Athletes Commission (one man and one woman) and one member of the International Olympic Committee in India. , Nita Ambani.
The IOA electoral college also has more women (39) than men (38) members.