Published: 24th April 2019
'Gold' Gomathi: How this girl from rural TN conquered the Asian Athletic Championship
Gomathi had won gold in the 800 metres event at the Asian Athletic Championship at Doha. She works as a tax assistant at the Income Tax department in Bengaluru
Mudikandam, a non-descript village in Tiruchy, was abuzz on Tuesday morning. Oblivious to the frenzy, Rasaathi went about her chores when neighbours came rushing to her house to inform that her daughter Gomathi had put them under the global spotlight by winning the gold medal in the 800 metres event at the Asian Athletic Championship at Doha.
“It was around 9.30 am when neighbours informed me that Gomathi's images were beamed on television channels. As I did not know how to operate the television, they helped me. I am so happy for her. I wish my husband were alive to see Gomathi win in such a huge event, ”said Rasaathi with tears welling up. The family credited Gomathi’s father Marimuthu's support and encouragement for her success. He died two years ago.
Gomathi's house measures just 150 sq ft and does have space to showcase the hundreds of medals and trophies she had won since childhood. There were numerous medals, cups and certificates in a suitcase and a bag in that small house. Showing a handful of medals in her hands, Gomathi’s mother said, “There are many such medals and papers in that bag too.”
Born into a family of farm labourers, 30-year-old Gomathi developed an interest in athletics when she was in the St Thomas School, Nazareth in Pudukkottai. She has an elder brother and two elder sisters. Subramani said “Our father motivated her a lot. He woke up 4 am almost like an alarm clock and would take Gomathi on a cycle to the main road so that she can reach her training spot on time. Similarly, he would wait at the main road by 8 pm for her to return. Rain or shine did not matter, what was important for our father was Gomathi's training and performance.” The villagers too recalled how Marimuthu used to get up early in the morning and cycle his daughter for 5 kilometres to the main road, from where she had to get a bus to go for coaching in Tiruchy, which is about 15 km away.
Unlike most of her peers, Gomathi was late to receive professional coaching.“Only during college did she get formal training, it was her dedication and her father’s support that has brought her laurels,” said Aranga Ganesan, retired Munikandam VAO. It was Ganesan who spotted Gomathi’s natural talent and approached her parents and arranged for formal training. On his advice, Gomathi joined BA Economics in the Holy Cross College for Women in Tiruchy and was practised at the St. Joseph’s College ground. By the time she joined the Masters (Media Management) in MOP Vaishnav College in Chennai, Gomathi won several medals at state and national level events.
Under sports quota, Gomathi got a job as a tax assistant at the Income Tax department in Bengaluru in 2013. Her brother, Subramani, is a home guard. Her two sisters Latha and Thilaka were married off. Gomathi meanwhile continues to pursue her running. Gomathi reportedly asked the family to postpone her marriage in order to achieve more in athletics.