as far as international exposure is concerned, things have not changed much © Getty Images (representational photo)
PT Usha added she is not going to predict how Tintu Luka can perform in Rio Olympicsd 2016 © Getty Images (representational photo)

New Delhi: She is frustrated with the lack of exposure for Tintu Luka, but sprint legend PT Usha today said she is still optimistic of her protege’s chances in this year’s Olympic Games. “These days, the money is there. Infrastructure in India is also not bad. But, as far as international exposure is concerned, things have not changed much,” said Usha. “Tintu finished 11th in the last Olympics. I have been running from pillar to post to ensure that she gets to participate in as many international events as possible. As of now, my efforts have drawn a blank. I am still hopeful that the federation will do something about it,” added the sprinter.

Usha said the lack of overseas exposure is the massive hindrance in Luka’s path. “I want her to win the medal. But, I am not going to predict that she would do so. Firstly, she lacks in international exposure. On top of that, these days, an athlete has to be mindful of various other aspects such as banned substances, dope tests etc. All of these would have to be factored in,” Usha said. “We try to keep her free from stress. We do not talk about Olympic medals with her. I tried to get her a sports psychologist but couldn’t get one.

“She does yoga to increase her level of concentration. Before the Olympics, if she gets to participate even in a couple of international events, preferably in Europe, that will do a world of good to her confidence,” she added. Looking back at her own national record 55.42 seconds in 400m hurdles, Usha said the mark achieved in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics will remain unbeaten for some time. “If somebody finishes 400m in 55.42 seconds, they will still qualify for the (Olympic) finals. That is why nobody has been able to break it,” she said.

“Our senior athletes went to the South Asian Games and ran 400m in 55 plus seconds. Mind you, I am not talking about 400m hurdles here,” she added. The 50-year-old feels one of her students, 16-year-old Jisna Mathew, has the potential to be a “world class 400 mts runner”.