SHE is no PT Usha, but Usha Sharma has made heads turn in her own way at the Asia Pacific Masters Games 2018 athletics competition at the City Stadium.
The 80-year-old grandmother made a comeback to athletics at the age of 73 after having to give up her love for athletics at the tender age of 20, to start a family.
Hailing from Panchkula district in India, Usha, a grandmother of four, competed in the 100m and discus in the women’s 80 and above age group. She won the sprint in 32:23 and had to settle for silver in the discus with a distance of 9.02m.
The timing and distance may raise eyebrows for the wrong reasons, but she certainly got accolades and congratulations for an 80-year-old who is still competitive.
“Having completed all my responsibilities as a wife and mother and my job career, I decided it was time I did what I had great love and passion for – athletics,” said Usha, who was a production officer at the Punjab school education office in Mohali in Ajith Singh Nagar district in Punjab, India.
Last year, Usha participated in the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand and won silver in the 100m.
Her practice to get back to athletics was only walking due to her back fracture after a fall.
“I only started discus throw at the age of 73. Back in school I use to play badminton, tennis and running.”
“Being 80 now, I have learnt that the biggest obstacle is one’s thinking. Positive thinking and mind set plays an important role in whatever one wants to achieve.
“Being unable to face obstacles and running away from problems are the main reason to having so much burden. Change the way you think and you change your life,” Usha urged senior citizens who think life is over for them.
She said even the younger generation need to have more positive thinking and set high goals instead of just complaining about almost everything.
“I never regretted having to give up sports for a married life because I wanted a family and married life. But as situations changed, I changed accordingly and decided to return to athletics although I am old.
“Besides, I am widow now and I kill my lonely time by competing in athletics and travelling.
“I am also very fond of travelling and athletics has given me the opportunity to do so with a purpose because I get to compete in meets and visit the countries too.
“I am glad that I am back to athletics because I am loving every minute of it and feeling on top of the clouds. It makes me feel very happy and having fulfilled my dreams. I am certainly making up for lost timealthough I am no longer in my prime age.
“I am now using the extra time God has given me to do what I want do and see the world before it’s my time for me to depart,” said Usha with fulfilment written all over her face.
“Great things in life sometimes require huge sacrifices. And sometimes those sacrifices are worth the lifetime” said Usha.
Looking back at her family, she has seen the 4th generation and is happy and satisfied that her efforts and sacrifices were not a waste or unappreciated as her family is equally proud and adores her.
Usha concluded that when it comes to sports or any events, the nation comes together first.
“Religion does not necessarily unite people but sports do. Humanity should be practised at mass level and the younger generation being so progressive must learn that humanity is essential and the world needs more humanity and love.”
Story and photos courtesy of APMG 2018