Olympian and sprinter PT Usha has been appointed as the Dean of the faculty of physical education and sports sciences at the Kannur University. Usha thus becomes the first sportsperson in the state of Kerala to be bestowed with such an academic honour.
Usha was picked by the Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the chancellor of the university. Three names had been proposed by the vice chancellor Gopinath Ravindran, from which Khan picked Usha as the new Dean. Kannur University might also be the first academic institution in India to have a sports player in charge of one of its faculties. Usha is not expected to take places, but she will play an integral role in decision-making regarding the department.
"Though the usual practice is to appoint a dean from the academic circles, we don't have such personalities in the sports field, and hence the decision to appoint Usha, who is an eminent sports personality, with global recognition," the vice chancellor told Times of India.
"This part of the state can do a lot in sports and since Usha is also from the region, she would be able to give a face lift to the sports scenario here, and we are hopeful that it would benefit the university as well," he continued.
Usha on her part took to Twitter to express her delight and honor.
Usha made waves in her playing career, but came to the limelight after her feats in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The sprinter, competing in the 400 metres hurdle event, ended up coming fourth in the race, missing the bronze medal by just 1/100th of a second. While the heartbreak of losing out on what would have been a historical medal was severe, Usha cast aside her disappointment and fared well in the Asian Athletics Championships held the following year in 1985 at Jakarta, Indonesia, where she secured 5 gold medals, a record.