Gomathi Marimuthu, a middle distance runner from Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, won India’s first gold medal in the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships at the Khalifa Stadium in Qatar on April 22. Marimuthu emerged from the back to take the lead position in the final few seconds of the 800-metre event. She finished with her personal best of 2 minutes, 2.70 seconds.
The 30-year-old developed an interest in athletics in school and was encouraged by her father, a farm labourer, who used to cycle 5 km daily to drop her for training. She started training professionally when she got into college and also received a job at the Income Tax department in Bengaluru.
In 2013, she reached the finals of the 800m event at the Asian Championship in Pune. However, in September 2016, she lost her father to colon cancer. Marimuthu told TNIE,
“My life turned upside down. My mother went into depression after dad passed away. It was very difficult to get her to do anything. The whole family was dependent on me.”
She lost her coach to a heart attack soon after. Gomathi continued training against all odds for national and international events while also supported her family with a regular job.
She was congratulated by DMK president MK Stalin and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami for winning the gold. After winning in Doha, she told TOI,
“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.”