‘Dad ate food kept for cows so I could train better’

‘Dad ate food kept for cows so I could train better’

The Asian Athletics Championship gold medalist Gomathi Marimuthu spoke about her journey so far, her father and the road ahead.

Speaking to reporters, Gomathi says she was confident about winning a gold medal despite not getting help from the Indian government. “I was confident about winning a medal and had practiced well. I was not part of the camp for a month and trained alone. Government of India did not help me and I got ready in my own money,” she said adding that Indian coach Bhatia helped her out with workout schedule over the phone.

Recalling her experience at the Asian Athletic Championships in Doha, Gomathi noted that it has been a difficult period in the run-up to the meet.

“If the government of Tamil Nadu helps me, I will train hard and try and win an Olympics medal. There is still one year for the event. Since this event was in a short period and I was recovering from an injury, I couldn’t clock my best timing in the race.”

Not one to mince words, Gomathi said that she does not want anybody to suffer as she did during her training period. “I had to fight for my rights at every step. I have seen many athletes give up because they did not have the help or the resources needed to prepare. I would be happy if the government helps them,” she pointed out.  

She also shared that many Tamils living in Doha have come forward to help her out financially and that she is considering accepting their help.

“Now the government of Tamil Nadu has come forward to help me. The DMK and the government of India have also offered to help me,” she adds.

When the 30-year-old, 800-m Asian Athletics Championships gold medal winner, Gomathi Marimuthu stepped onto the podium to embrace her win and the recognition to go with it, the only thing that was probably going through her mind was gratitude.

Gratitude for her late father, who did everything within his capabilities and then some, to watch his daughter realise her dreams but could not be around to experience the joy and excitement when she finally did. 

After winning the Asian gold, Marimuthu went down the memory lane, remembering all the hardships her family had to go through on a daily basis just to make her better at what she wanted to do, by a tiny margin than how she was the previous day. 

“When I used to do sports, my father had a leg ailment and he was unable to walk. He had a two-wheeler and that was a big deal for us back then. We did not have good bus facility to go to the city, there was no electricity in my town and the roads weren’t good either,” said the athlete in a press conference after the win. 

“If I woke up at 4 a.m., I could catch the 4.30 bus. So my father would wake me up at 4, sharp, putting an alarm. If my mother was not feeling well, my father only would give me water, boil milk… all these things he would only do.”

“I miss my father. Since I was into sports, and we didn’t have much food, he kept aside some for me and ate cattle feed for himself. I can never forget that one day,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks. “If only my father was around today, I consider him to be like God.”

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