PT Usha’s coach OM Nambiar, who was selected for the Padma Shri award this year after waiting for more than three decades, said that ‘late but better than ever’. 88-year-old Nambiar, who gave Usha a great athlete like India, told Kozhikode in an interview with PTI, ‘I am very happy to receive this honor, although it should have been received years ago. Despite this I am happy. Better late than never.’
It was her biggest dream to get her most famous pupil Usha an Olympic medal although she missed the bronze in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics by a slight margin. Opening the layers of the past, he said, ‘I cried a lot when I came to know that Usha missed the medal by a hundredth of a second in the 400m hurdles in the 1984 Olympics. I kept crying I can never forget that moment. Usha’s Olympic medal was the biggest dream of my life. ‘
Usha was defeated by Romania’s Cristiana Kojocaru in a photo finish. Nambiar’s son Suresh said that a member of the family would visit to honor him. He said, ‘My father will not be able to go because he cannot walk again. A family member will go and take this honor. Nambiar remained in the Indian Air Force for 15 years and retired from the rank of Sergeant in 1970.
He did a diploma in coaching from NIS Patiala in 1968 and joined the Kerala Sports Council in 1971. In addition to Usha, he was also the coach of Shiney Wilson (a four-time Olympian and gold medalist in the 800 meters at the 1985 Asian Championships) and Vandana Rao. Usha, who won four gold medals at the 1986 Asian Games under Nambiar’s guidance, said, “Nambiar sir should have received this honor long ago. I felt bad because I got the Padma Shri in 1985 and had to wait. He deserved it the most.