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PT Usha -  Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha to use her full name - is one of India's greatest athletes, often called the country's "queen of track and field".

A graceful sprinter with long strides, she dominated Asian track-and-field events for most of the 1980s, winning 23 medals in all, 14 of which were gold, a crowd favourite wherever she raced.

Born in the village of Kuttali in Kerala, PT Usha studied in nearby Payyoli - which later gave rise to her nickname ‘The Payyoli Express’ - and her natural talent was discovered when she was nine.

At a school race, the fourth-grade student effortlessly went on to beat the school champion, three years her senior. It astonished the teachers and her abilities over the next few years earned her a place in one of the first batches of sport-oriented schools the Kerala government had set up.