The 22nd Asian Athletics Championship concluded in Odisha on Sunday with India topping the medal list. G Lakshmanan gave two gold medals for India in 5,000m on opening day and 10,000m on closing day.

After his successful run in Odisha, Lakshmanan’s long-time coach S Loganathan revealed that the Indian sprinter once ran barefoot in a highway.

Lakshmanan, a havildar in the Army, "always wanted to run and was a hard worker, which is paying dividends now," Loganathan told PTI from Pudukottai.

"He had a great interest for running and braved the elements to practise without proper footwear on the road. All he wanted to do was to run," the coach added.

"As a boy, he (Lakshmanan) came to me and wanted me to mould him into an athlete as his ambition was to be a runner," said Loganathan, who runs a sports club in Pudukottai town.

In the last edition of Asian Athletics Championship that was held in China, Lakshmanan had won silver and bronze in the 10,000m and 5,000m respectively.

Commenting upon his effort in China, Loganathan said "I spoke to him and made him realise that he has a lot more to achieve," he said, adding "I was optimistic of a win for him ahead of the Bhubaneshwar meet. He has got the talent to achieve more. I wish he can make it to the Olympics."

"To win in home conditions makes it an even bigger achievement. I have helped him at some point of time when he was younger. A lot of credit must also go to Loganathan, who coached him since he was a raw talent. I wish he can go on to bigger things," said Nallusamy Annavi, former international high jumper who is present coach of Lakshmanan.

The 27-year-old from Sokkurani village in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu came under the wings of Loganathan at the age of 16, after losing his father and since then he has been looked after by Loganathan like a son.

The victory also ensured him a place in the World Championships to be held in London next month.