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The illustrious PT Usha will be formally elected as the first female president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) during the elections held by the governing body on Saturday, ushering in a new era in the nation’s sports administration.
The 58-year-old Usha, a multiple Asian Games gold medalist and fourth-place finisher in the Olympic 400-meter hurdles final in 1984 in Los Angeles, will be proclaimed elected without opposition for the top position in the elections being run under the direction of retired SC judge L Nageswara Rao, who was appointed by the Supreme Court.
Usha’s promotion to the top position will also signal the conclusion of the protracted problem in the divided IOA, which has been threatened with suspension by the International Olympic Committee if elections, which were initially scheduled for December last year, are not held this month.
Four ordinary members of the executive council, four joint secretaries, and 77 members of the electoral college will be elected at the elections.
For the position of joint secretary (female), Alaknanda Ashok of the Badminton Association of India and Suman Kaushik of the Netball Federation of India are squarely in competition. Out of the eight contenders, the electorate will select four members for the executive council.
Amitabh Sharma, Bhupender Singh Bajwa, Cyrus Poncha, Harjinder Singh, Harpal Singh, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Rohit Rajpal, and Vitthal Shirgaonkar are the eight contestants.
Usha, a legendary track and field athlete, will have a completely new set of responsibilities because she has never held a position of authority before. She now serves as the Athletics Federation of India’s junior selection committee chair. She has also participated in the numerous national honors committees that the government has established throughout the years.
Usha, affectionately known as the “Payyoli Express,” is thought to be a contender for the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, which had nominated her as a Rajya Sabha member in July.
She will also add another feather to her crown as the first Olympian and first international medalist to lead the IOA in its 95-year history after dominating Indian and Asian athletics for two decades before retiring in 2000 with a collection of international medals.
Since Maharaja Yadavindra Singh played in a Test match in 1934, Usha is the first athlete to have represented the nation while also leading the IOA. Between 1938 and 1960, Singh served as the third IOA president.
Ajay Patel of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will be chosen without opposition as senior vice-president. Gagan Narang, an Olympic medalist in shooting, and Rajlaxmi Singh Deo, the head of the Rowing Federation of India, will also be elected without opposition as vice presidents.
Sahdev Yadav, president of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), will hold the position of treasurer because no one else applied. Kalyan Chaubey, the head of the All India Football Federation and a former goalie, will be chosen without opposition as the joint secretary (male).
Yogeshwar Dutt, an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, and Dola Banerjee, a female archer, will represent the eight Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit on the executive council, respectively (SOM).
Four candidates for the executive council members and one female contender for vice president withdrew from the race earlier. High-profile politicians including Union Minister Arjun Munda, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and BJP Member of Parliament Brijbhushan Sharan Singh are anticipated to participate in the voting process.
Along with Usha, Gagan Narang, and Yogeshwar Dutt, other prominent politicians from the past and present of the nation, such as Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu, MM Somaya, and Akhil Kumar, will also vote.
The new executive council will also be very different from the previous ones. This is the first time in IOA history that at least five of the 14 executive council members will be former athletes, including Nita Ambani, an IOC member from India. From the previous IOA executive council, only Sahdev Yadav and Rajlaxmi Singh Deo are still in the top position.
Following approval from the international committee, the IOA accepted the revised constitution written by judge Rao on November 10. The 77-person electoral college is made up of 66 members from 33 National Sports Federations, each of which nominated one male and one female, eight SOMs (four male and four female), two members of the Athletes Commission (one male and one female), and Nita Ambani, an IOC member from India.
Additionally, there are 39 more female members of the IOA electoral college than male ones (38). Due to an ongoing issue in the Delhi High Court, where a petition was filed to alter the IOA’s constitution before holding elections in order to bring it into compliance with the National Sports Code, the elections that were scheduled to take place in December of last year were unable to take place. Justice (retired) Rao was subsequently chosen by the Supreme Court to write the constitution and oversee election administration. The IOC acknowledged the “substantial progress” the IOA has made in resolving its governance difficulties on Tuesday, but stated that it will not make a decision to lift the warning for a ban until the elections process is complete.