Gomathi Marimuthu might have become an overnight star with her gold-winning effort at the recently-concluded Asian Athletics Championship in Doha but she is completely focussed now on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The athlete from a village near Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu finished on top in 800 metres in Doha and has now set her eyes on doing well at the World Athletics championships.
"My next aim is to perform well in the World Athletics Championship later this year," Gomathi, an employee of the Income Tax Department, Bengaluru, told PTI from Tiruchirapalli.
"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, who comes from a humble background, said.
Gomathi clocked a personal best time of 2:02:70s at the Asian championship, bettering her previous best of 2:03:21 that she had achieved at the Federation Cup in Patiala earlier this year.
Daughter of a farm labourer (late Marimuthu), Gomati said she would have recorded a better timing if it weren't for those years that she lost due to injury and lack of support.
"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.
Recalling the tough days she had to endure when her father and coach passed away, Gomathi said she battled an injury and it was only because of her friend's encouragement that she kept going.
"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, who has been hopping from one felicitation function to another after arriving in India from Doha, said.
Her immediate goal is to do well in the inter-state athletic championship, to be held in Kolkata in July, and then concentrate on the World Championship in Doha in September.
"Now I am feeling more confident after the win in Doha and next is the inter-state meet and then the big one (World championship)."
Gomathi said her coach would devise her training schedules ahead of the World Championship.
About the shoe controversy that cropped up after reports of her wearing torn shoes, Gomathi said it was not the case and the ones she had worn were "lucky shoes."
"I have heard this so many times (the shoe issue). It is not like that. The pair I wore during the race were lucky ones. I am very sentimental about that pair so I used it for the final," she clarified.
Her mother, 52-year old Rasathi, who works in a field, was overjoyed at Gomathi's achievement and said the entire village celebrated the triumph.
"Gomathi told me that she was going abroad to take part in an 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.
She said her late husband had supported Gomathi a lot after she displayed interest in athletics from a young age.
"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.
Gomathi's brother M Subramani said his father used to support Gomathi a lot during the initial days and would have been delighted to see her win a medal in an international event.