India’s Olympic Hope: Meet PT Usha’s protégé Tintu Luka from Kerala
India’s sprint queen P.T. Usha missed the bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics by a whisker. She competed in the 400m hurdles and lost out by one-hundredth of a second.
That loss still rankles and this is perhaps why Usha is pinning all her hopes on Tintu Luka, who can be rightfully called her protégé.
Born on April 26, 1989 at Kannur district in Kerala, Luka went to St. Thomas High School, Karikkottakary.
Luka joined the PT Usha School of Athletics at Koyilandy, Kerala in around 2001 and has made steady progress since then under her guidance.
She first came into the limelight in 2008 when she bagged a silver medal in 800m at the Asian Junior Athletics Championship in Jakarta.
Thereafter in 2010, she won a bronze in the same event at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. At the Asian Championships in Kobe, Japan the following year, she won another bronze in the 800m race.
This was followed by yet another bronze in the Asian Championships at Pune in 2013. She finished a highly creditable second at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and culminated in a first place finish at the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China in 2015.
While this remains her first and only gold in her favourite 800m event, she helped the team win gold in the 4x400m relay at the 2014 Asian Games.
Luka is the current national record holder in 800m, having broken Shiny Wilson’s 15-year record in 2010. She achieved the feat at the Continental Cup in Croatia clocking 1:59:17.
On Luka’s record-breaking feat, Usha had said, “She made some mistakes in the previous race at Belgium (finished eighth) and rectified them in Split (Croatia) to get this performance.”
Luka hasn’t won anything major in 800m at a world-level event so far in her career and hence, it would be too much to expect her to get a medal at this year’s Rio Olympics. However, qualifying for the finals in a highly competitive field, would be an achievement in itself.
(India's Olympic Hope is a series of profiles of south India's Olympic participants of Rio 2016)