Gomathi Marimuthu, the 30-year-old sprinter from Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, scripted a historic win by securing India’s first gold medal in the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
In an epic comeback, Gomathi stormed her way through the home straight to clinch the gold medal in a sensational fashion with her personal best of 2 minutes 02.70 seconds.
After all the trials and troubles, this was Gomathi’s maiden major gold medal at an international event. The sprint at Doha outsmarted her previous best at the Federation Cup at Patiala where she finished with 2:03.21 seconds.
A daughter of farmers, for Gomathi, started running when she was only 20 years and it’s been ten long years of immense struggle. Despite entering into the sports field a lot later than many top-notch athletes, Gomathi is now the recognisable personality in India.
In fact, it was her friend Shruthi who inspired Gomathi to take her inborn talent to the next step in intensity. Until then, she was focussed on getting a job and supporting her family. Gomathi was the only one among the three children (one elder brother and sister) of the family to attend college. She was a student of Holy Cross College in Tiruchirappalli
Despite having a regular job at the Income Tax department in Bengaluru under the sports quota, Gomathi did find time to train regularly. After years of intense training, she grew from strength to strength and helped her reach the final of the 800m event at the Asian Championship in Pune in 2013, where she finished 7th.
After 2 years, in Wuhan, China, she came fourth in the same event. Gomathi had all other plans to improve but tragedy struck in September 2016, when her father died due to colon cancer. A few months later, she picked up a severe groin injury.
“My life turned upside down. My mother went into depression after dad passed away. It was tough to get her to do anything. The whole family was dependent on me,” she told The New Indian Express.
One more tragedy struck months later as she lost her coach due to a heart attack at the national camp.
“I had no one to train me. I had to provide for the family as well,” she adds.
It was two years of immense pain and hard work before she could train once again. She also missed out on taking part in events like the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, but she didn’t give up!
Nonetheless, at the start of the year, she started featuring in national events and qualified for the Asian Athletics Championships with an impressive win in March at the 2019 Federation Cup in Patiala, where her timing of 2.03.21 would have got her gold medal at the 2017 Asian Championship in Bhubaneswar had she participated.
However, this wasn’t enough for the authorities to select her for the upcoming championship. They asked her to appear for another trial, where she once again proved that her run at Patiala wasn’t a flash in the pan. She had indeed come back to the sport.
“Things have been challenging in the last few years. But I have never had any doubts about my abilities, and that has stood me in good stead. It took a tremendous amount of self-belief and hard work to be able to run the way I am running at the moment. 2019 has been a great year for me so far as this is the best I have performed on the track in the last few years,” she told the Times of India after her stellar win in Doha.
The Youth wishes Gomathi Marimuthu best of full luck for her future endeavours and let’s hope she continues to set high standards like this and keep winning laurels for India.