“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 at a press meet in Chennai last week after the surprise gold win at the recently concluded Asian Athletics Championship in Doha. The sprinter is not letting her father’s (late Marimuthu) efforts go in vain as she is now completely focussed on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The middle distance runner, who hails from a village near Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, is a farmer’s daughter. She has created history by winning India’s first gold medal in 800 metres in the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

“My next aim is to perform well in the World Athletics Championship later this year,” Gomathi told PTI.

“I also want to run in the Olympics and am preparing for it. Now more and more people and the government is supporting me. I want to do everything possible to qualify for the Games in Tokyo. The aim is to qualify for the Olympics,” the athlete said, Firstpost reported.

READ: Why Gomathi Marimuthu’s First Gold For India Is A Big Deal?

The 30-year-old Gomathi clocked a personal best time of 2:02:70s at the Asian Championship. Her previous best (2:03.21) was at the Federation Cup, where she won gold in Patiala earlier this year.

Gomathi is upset that she lost a few years due to injury and lack of support; otherwise she would have recorded a better timing.

“No one knew me before; now that everyone knows me I am getting support from various quarters including the Tamil Nadu government. I could have recorded a better time if I had not lost those years due to injury and lack of support,” she said.

In a tragic turn of faith, in September 2016, Gomathi lost her father to colon cancer. She didn’t lose hope and was determined to continue her running, but a few months later in December same year, the runner herself suffered a severe groin injury. Months later, she also lost her coach at the national camp to a cardiac arrest. Recalling the tragic loss of her father and coach, Gomathi said, “The year 2016 was a tough one for me as I lost my father and coach but my friend Francis Mary encouraged me and told me to continue the sport. Also, a groin injury meant I missed nearly two years.”

“Gomathi told me that she was going abroad to take part in athletics meet and that she would call me after April 25. Till she won, I had no idea about her achievement. I am very proud that my girl from this small village has reached such heights with determination and hard work,” said Gomathi’s mother, 52-year old Rasathi, who works in a field, to a reporter.

“My husband would have been very happy if he had been alive to see Gomathi win such a big prize. I am happy that she had realised his dreams,” she added.

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