Gomathi Marimuthu, the 30-year-old sprinter from Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, wrote a success story for herself by scripting a historic win by clinching 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. She outclassed China’s Asian champion Wang Chunyu and Kazakhstan’s former two-time Asiad winner Margarita Mukasheva.
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.
Gomathi’s journey wasn’t that easy. She explained how life was difficult for her. She went on to recall struggles in her life when her father ate the food which was kept for cattle so that she could train for athletics.
“My father ate the food kept for cattle in order to provide me with decent food so that I can train for athletics,” said a tearful Gomathi Marimuthu.
“My father was not able to walk when I was training for the championship. We don’t have bus or light facilities in my village. So to catch the bus at 4.30, my father used to wake me up at 4am and help me with household work if my mother is not well. I miss him,” she says.
Remembering one specific incident which is still there in the memory of her father, Gomathi said, “When my father was not well and admitted in the hospital, he ate the food kept for cattle just because he wanted to provide food for me for sports training I still cannot accept or forget it. If he was alive now, I would have considered him as my God,” she adds, breaking into tears.
“He used to tell me that I have chances to win the gold. I was in the second position till the last 50 metres (in the Asian championships). In the last 50 metres, I raced ahead and was able to win the gold, which was possible only through my hard work. I was so happy to know that I had finished first. More so when I heard that I was the first medal for India in the championship,” she recalls.
Her performance in the Asian Athletic meet was not only medal-winning, but also her personal best, she states. “In my age, it is not easy to clock a best timing. But I did and I am happy. If I work harder, I can do better. My target is to clock a record timing in the upcoming World Championship. If I perform well in this World Championships, there are chances that I might win medal in Olympics,” she added.
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.