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 now focussed on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The athlete from a village near Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu finished on top in 800 metres. She now has aims to do well at the World Athletics Championships later this year.

“My next aim is to perform well in the World Athletics Championships,” Marimuthu, an employee of the Income Tax Department told PTI.

“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.”

Marimuthu 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.

Marimuthu, daughter of a farm labourer, said the 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 this. 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, the 30-year-old said that she kept going only because of her friend’s support.

“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,” she said.

Her immediate goal is to do well in the inter-state athletic championship, to be held in Kolkata in July before the World Championships 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 Championships].”

About ‘lucky shoes’ and making her father proud

Marimuthu said her coach would devise her training schedules ahead of the World Championships. As for the controversy that cropped up after reports emerged of her running with 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,” Marimuthu said.” 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 and said her village celebrated her daughter’s 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.

Rasathi 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.