IOA Election: PT Usha will officially become the first woman president

Legendary sprinter P T Usha will officially become the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association elections on Saturday, opening a new chapter in sports administration in the country. She will be the first Olympian and international medalist to hold the post of president in the 95-year history of the IOA. She went on to win innumerable medals for India in track and field before retiring from the sport twenty-two years ago. Usha, an Asian Games gold medalist and fourth-place finisher at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, will be elected unopposed to the post of IOA president.

The elections are being conducted under the supervision of Supreme Court-appointed Justice (retd) L Nageswara Rao. With Usha becoming the president, the crisis in factional-ridden IOA will also end. The International Olympic Committee had warned that the IOA could be suspended if the elections were not held this month. Elections will be held for Joint Secretary (Women) and four general members of the Executive Council for which 77 voters will cast their votes. Alaknanda Ashok of the Badminton Association of India and Suman Kaushik of the Netball Federation of India are in the running for the post. There are eight candidates in the race for the four posts of the Executive Council.

These include Amitabh Sharma, Bhupender Singh Bajwa, Cyrus Poncha, Harjinder Singh, Harpal Singh, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Rohit Rajpal and Vitthal Shirgaonkar. This will be a completely new responsibility for Usha as she has not been a part of the administration before. She is currently the Chairperson of the Junior Selection Committee of the Athletics Federation of India. Apart from this, she has been a member of various award committees constituted by the government. Usha, popularly known as ‘Payoli Express’, is being considered as the candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which nominated her as a Rajya Sabha member in July.

Usha, who won 11 medals, including four gold, at the Asian Games between 1982 and 1994, won gold in 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay and silver in 100m at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. In Delhi Asian Games 1982, he won medals in 100m and 200m. Apart from this, he has won 23 medals including 14 gold in the Asian Championship. She lost the bronze medal in the 400 meters hurdles final at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics to Romania’s Cristina Cojocaru by one-hundredth of a second. Usha will be the first sportsperson to become IOA President after Maharaja Yadvinder Singh who has represented the country. Yadvinder Singh played a Test match in 1934 and was the IOA President from 1938 to 1960.

Ajay Patel will be elected unopposed to the post of Senior Vice President of National Rifle Association of India. Olympic medalist shooter Gagan Nang and Sailing Federation of India president Rajlaxmi Singh Deo will be the vice-presidents. Sahdev Yadav, president of the Indian Weightlifting Federation, will become the treasurer as he is the only candidate for the post. All India Football Federation President and former goalkeeper Kalyan Choubey will become Joint Secretary (Men).

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Olympic medalist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and archer Dola Banerjee will be the representatives of the Committee of Eight Outstanding Sportsmen in the Executive Council. Union Minister Arjun Munda, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will also vote in the election. Apart from these, Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu, MM Somaiya, Akhil Kumar, Usha, Gagan Narang and Yogeshwar will also cast their votes.

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