Asian Games 2018: Heptathlete Swapna Barman defeats pain barrier to make history
No Indian in the history of heptathlon had won gold before Swapna Barman, with Soma Biswas winning two consecutive silver medals at the 2002 Busan and the 2006 Doha Games and Karnataka’s JJ Shobha winning bronze at the 2006 Games.Updated: Aug 30, 2018 23:46 IST
Swapna Barman’s craving for chocolate could well have cost her gold at the Asian Games. Just before her competition began on Tuesday, she started writhing from tooth pain, forcing her to compete with a medicated tape covering her right jaw. (Asian Games 2018 Day 12 LIVE)
“I had severe pain in my right jaw and couldn’t take medication because of the stringent anti-doping rules. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to give off my best with this killing pain. But, somehow, I got the motivation over the last two days to win the Asian Games gold,” said the Jalpaiguri girl after clinching the heptathlon gold.
“I told myself that if I have to win, I’ll have to forget the pain. I was also nursing a right-knee injury and that too was troubling me,” said Swapna who started as a high jumper in 2013 but later moved to heptathlon.
With 6026 points, Swapna won gold by a massive margin, with China’s Wang Qingling coming second with 5954 points and Yuki Yamasaki of Japan notching a personal best of 5873 on way to bronze.
Life has given Swapna more pain and grief than joy. Born with six toes on both feet, she has had to endure the pain of wearing normal shoes as no shoe-manufacturing company was ready to make customised shoes for her.
“You can well imagine the pain I go through when I compete with spiked shoes which are narrow in front,” she said. Now that Swapna’s been crowned Asia’s best, her gripe will surely be taken more seriously.
Going into the final phase of the gruelling event — 800m — she knew she had to just keep pace with the Chinese to clinch gold.
Though Swapna — whose mother works in a tea estate and her father a rickshaw driver before a stroke left him bedridden in 2013 — finished fourth in 800m, she was way ahead of the field.
No Indian in the history of heptathlon had won gold before Swapna, with Soma Biswas winning two consecutive silver medals at the 2002 Busan and the 2006 Doha Games and Karnataka’s JJ Shobha winning bronze at the 2006 Games. Pramila Aiyappa also had won bronze in 2010.