She stepped inside her school, Velammal Vidyalaya in the village of Mudikandam in Trichy after quite a number of years. There was an outpouring of wishes from the school children, local residents, as well as her former teachers.
Gomathi Marimuthu returned to her village after conquering the 800m race in Doha at the age of 30 years. While speaking to The Bridge on Saturday morning, Gomathi exclaimed, “I became emotional after attending my felicitation programme in my own school. I told the young kinds only one thing – nothing is impossible if anybody has sheer determination and perseverance like I had.”
Gomathi’s father Marimuthu was a daily wage farmer, working on the field. He passed away three years back in 2016. “Everyday my father used to wake up at 4 AM in the morning and forced me also to go for running. During my school days, I used to take part in more or less all the games, but was fascinated towards athletics. Then I started practising seriously after graduating to college under my coach Gandhi,” remembered the middle-distance runner.
Gomathi lost both her father and coach in the same year. “My mother, Rasathi had to go out of home, working on the same field where my father used to go for farming. She alone was not able to do all the jobs on the field,” she said.
She was ruled out of the track following a groin injury that very year (in 2016). She needed absolute rest to heal her groin injury. Despite the severe groin injury, Gomathi had to help her mother, working on the field, at times even under the scorching sun.
“I was inspired by Shiny Wilson”
There were two key ingredients that rejuvenated a depressed Gomathi who had almost decided to quit. She did not have a proper running shoe that time and without a proper diet. “I used to go for training sessions after my college, where I used to run barefoot,” she exclaimed during the interaction.
One ingredient was one of her closest friends, Francis Mary’s continuous inspiration which brought her back to the track again. The second key ingredient was Shiny Wilson. Gomathi described, “During our training days, in college and later in district meets, our coaches used to tell the story of Shiny Madam. We heard about Shiny Madam’s struggle and how she established herself as India’s one of the all-time greatest athletes. I was inspired by listening to her story and thought of coming back to track in 2017.”
Gomathi could not imagine that she would be experiencing her fan moment so soon, but it did happen after she clocked 2:03.21 seconds in 800 meters in the Federation Cup earlier this year. She stated, “We finished our morning training session in our national preparatory camp in Ooty. All on a sudden I found Shiny Madam was standing in front of us (the middle-distance runners). I was speechless.”
Shiny had given some tips to the middle-distance athletes and Gomathi revealed those words also played as an inspiration. “She told me I was doing well and if I work harder my timing will improve. And I went on to break the 800m timing clocking 2:02.70 seconds. I feel her advice helped me a lot to better my timing.”
Gomathi seemed excited as she will be meeting her soon again, “I will again go to Bangalore on 15th May. Shiny Madam is coming to the national preparatory camp. I look forward to my next goal – World Championships in October and I am convinced her advice will help me a lot again,” she concluded.