Bengaluru, October 7: In an honest attempt to meet the training expenses of athletes at her academy, India's sprint queen PT Usha has turned to crowdfunding.
As part of the initiative, the Usha School of Athletics which was formed in 2002, has now joined hands with Milaap, an online crowd-funding platform, to raise money for its trainees.
Tintu Luka, who won 800M gold at 2015 Wuhan Asian Championships is one of the success stories of Usha School of Athletics.
"With small contributions, we can do a lot. My aim is to deliver an Olympic medal. But, I can't do it alone. We started with 12 athletes and have 19 athletes now. We've been meeting their expenses with the support of sponsors and individual donors. But we can do more with better support," said Usha, a Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee, while addressing a press conference in the Garden City.
The campaign for Abitha Mary Manuel, who won the 800M bronze at the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Youth Games, has collected a sum of Rs.1.12 lakh from 43 supporters so far.
Usha said her school has the capacity to train 40 promising athletes but is able to train only 19 due to lack of funds.
The school spends Rs 60 lakh on budding athletes every year with the money being sourced from individual donors, institutions and government.
"We recruit five or six athletes every year. But from that, we can unearth only one world-class talent after years of training. We want to spread the bottom-line and recruit 40. Right now, we aren't in a position to do so," the 53-year-old added.
Usha, who missed 400M hurdles bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics by a whisker feels one medal for India on the Olympic stage can go a long way towards popularising athletics.
"Look at badminton, Saina's bronze and Sindhu's silver have turned the spotlight totally on that sport. Things in athletics too can change with one medal," said Usha, who was conferred the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Awards following her spectacular run at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Milaap CEO Mayukh Choudhury shared Usha's views, saying athletes receiving training under Usha can achieve a lot if they get right resources.