On December 10, legendary athlete PT Usha was elected as the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Usha, a multiple Asian Games gold medallist and fourth-place finisher in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics 400m hurdles final, was declared unopposed for the leading spot in the polls.
The elections were overseen by retired Supreme Court judge L Nageswara Rao, who was appointed by the Supreme Court.
According to reports, Usha’s election to the top job brought an end to the long-running issue in the faction-ridden IOA, which had been warned with suspension by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if elections were not held this month. However, the polls were initially scheduled for December 2021.
Nobody was willing to fight Usha, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in July, as the lone candidate for the top post.
Apart from Usha, Ajay Patel of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) was elected unopposed as senior vice-president. As vice presidents, Olympic medalist shooter Gagan Narang and Rowing Federation of India president Rajlaxmi Singh Deo were elected unopposed.
Sahdev Yadav, president of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), has been elected treasurer. Former goalkeeper and All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey was chosen unopposed as joint secretary (male).
After a three-way battle, Alaknanda Ashok of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) was elected as joint secretary (female). Suman Kaushik and Shalini Thakur Chawla were also in the race.
Usha, fondly known as the ‘Payyoli Express,’ was the first Olympian and first international medallist to represent the IOA in its 95-year history.
She is also the first sportsperson to have represented the country and also elected IOA president since Maharaja Yadavindra Singh in 1934. Singh was the third president of the IOA, serving from 1938 to 1960.