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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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A beautiful friendship, renewed in Doha!

Indian legend P T Usha and IAAF Council member Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco go back a long way.
Usha 4
Indian athletics legend P T Usha (right), who received the IAAF Veteran Pin on Tuesday, with Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel. Two, great friends now, were rivals in the 400M hurdles finals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Photo: Inside Qatar

Some friendships stand the test of time, like the one between India’s PT Usha and Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel.

At the Los Angeles Olympics way back in 1984, the two athletes were engaged in the race of their lives in the final of the 400M hurdles. While Moutawakel made history as the first-ever Arab woman Olympic gold medallist, Usha missed out after finishing fourth by one-hundredth of a second.


  • Jose Maria Odriozola (ESP)
  • Roberto Gesta De Melo (BRA)
  • Victor Lopez (PUR)
  • Asia — Dahlan Al Hamad (QAT)
  • South America – Juan Alberto Scarpin (ARG)
  • Oceania — Filimoni Vuli Waqa (FIJ)
  • North America — Adrian Lorde (BAR)
  • Europe — Jose Luis de Carlos (ESP)
  • Africa – Abdeslam Ahizoune (MOR)
  • ASIA
  • Duan Shije (CHN)
  • Yukio Seki (JPN)
  • PT Usha (IND)
  • Juan Luis Carter Beltran (CHI)
  • Manuel Estuardo Bravo Calderon (ECU)
  • Aubrey Hulton (GUY)
  • Robin Sapong Eugenio (Northern Marianas Islands)
  • Josephine Pinto (GUA)
  • Daniel Vincente (French Polynesia)
  • Ronald Cartwright (BAH)
  • Xiomara Larios (NCA)
  • Lorna Rogers (Anguilla)
  • Nick Davis (IRL)
  • Toralf Nilsson (SWE)
  • Gabriela Szabo (ROM)
  • Ammar Bouras (ALG)
  • Jillo Dube (ETH)
  • Maria Wophill (NGR)
Usha Dahlan
P T Usha with Dahlan Al Hamad, Director General of the World Championships Local Organising Committee. Photo: Inside Qatar

Years later, a bond of friendship was forged between the two legends of track and field who have taken different career routes post Los Angeles ’84. Usha, who minted gold medals galore, is now a coach grooming champions of the future while Moutawakel is a powerful sports administrator.

On Tuesday in Doha, Usha and Moutwakel renewed their friendship, with the former Indian great arriving in the Qatari capital to receive IAAF Veteran Pin for exemplary service to athletics. She will also be guiding her ward Jisna Mathew, who is competing in the 4x400M relay at the IAAF World Championships.

Moutawakel, an IAAF Council member and a member of the International Olympic Committee, is in Doha for the IAAF Congress as well as to attend the World Championships.

Prior to Usha, only six Indians have won the IAAF Veteran Pin  – Guru Dutt Sondhi (1948), Jal D Pardivala (’62), S Umrao Singh (’76), Arun Kumar Banerjee (’03), Lalit Kumar Bhanot (’07) and CK Valson (’11).

Usha did not hide her pleasure on being awarded the pin. “Receiving the IAAF Veteran Pin is a great honour. I’m thrilled to be recognised by the sport that gave me everything. It’ll motivate me to work harder and develop the next generation of Indian athletes,” she told Inside Qatar.

Usha was doubly happy to renew ties with an old friend. “It’s so good to meet Moutawakel again. We share a great personal bond and I’m thankful for having such a good friend,” said the Indian, who retired in 1998 and subsequently set up the Usha School of Athletics in Kozhikode, Kerala State.

Moutawakel was privy to the decision to honour Usha but kept it to herself. “A few months back, when the IAAF Council decided to award the Veteran Pin to Usha, I sent her a WhatsApp message, saying I’ll see her in Doha. Of course, I couldn’t reveal she had won. Usha said she wasn’t sure about making the trip but I insisted I’ll be seeing her in Qatar. And I did,” the Moroccan said with a smile.

Moutawakel also revealed how the friendship had strengthened over the years. “A few years back, when I visited India, I made it a point to track her down. Since then, we’ve kept in touch and look out for each other wherever we’re. The arrival of Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media channels have made communication much simpler,” the former hurdler said.

At Tuesday’s function, the IAAF gave away awards to many achievers. Apart from Usha, the Veteran Pin was conferred on 17 others. Six persons, including the 2019 IAAF World Championships organising committee Director General Dahlan Al Hamad, received Plaques of Merit. The IAAF’s highest award —Silver Order of Merit — were given away to three achievers.