Braving toothache, Swapna Barman longs for customised shoes

A little after 5.52 pm IST on Wednesday, Swapna was extremely delighted that she went through with the whole charade. She had just become the first Indian to win heptathlon gold at the Asian Games.

Published: 30th August 2018 06:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2018 06:41 AM   |  A+A-

Swapna Barman during the javelin leg of heptathlon on Wednesday | PTI

Express News Service

JAKARTA: Chocolates are generally considered to be one of the greatest things made by man. The industry is reportedly worth more than $50 billion a year. India’s Swapna Barman, who liberally contributed to that figure in the run-up to the Asian Games, started hating them all of a sudden. Binging on chocolates had given her such a nasty tooth infection that she had to literally wrap the external part of her cheek in cotton wool. A day before her event — heptathlon — began, she doubted whether it was even worth it to put her body through all the pain and suffering.

On Tuesday, the first day of the heptathlon, she actually wanted to pull out. She was at odds with herself. Her mind was making promises she doubted that the heart would keep. The 21-year-old had a talk with herself to clear her mind. She reminded herself of all those hours spent inside the gym and on the track for this day. “It’s just a two-day event,” she promised herself. 

A little after 5.52 pm IST on Wednesday, Swapna was extremely delighted that she went through with the whole charade. She had just become the first Indian to win heptathlon gold at the Asian Games. History. “(The) first day of the event, I actually felt I wouldn’t be able to compete because of the pain,” she said. “But then I reminded myself of all the hard work I had put in to get to this stage.” No, she wasn’t just talking about a toothache. That is child’s play for her, considering the challenges she has come through. 

Here’s a sample. When a reporter asked whether she has had to struggle in life, she didn’t know how to answer. She looked at everyone before seeking a helping hand from a member of her support staff. At one point, she even opted to bury her face in her hands.Are you after injuries? There isn’t a part of her body that hasn’t been invaded by a scalpel. Even without a toothache, she knows what it’s like to run with pain. She has problems in her ligaments in the ri­ght knee.

Do you want extreme paranoia? She hates running the 200m — almost vomited before running it here — because she lives in perennial fear of cutting lanes.Do you want a mid-career change? She cha­nged from high jump — “I am on the shorter side” — to hep­tathlon.Do you want reject­i­on? She used to be good at foo­tball and kabaddi, but would be rejected wh­en she went for trials. Do you want extra body parts? She can’t even train properly because she has six toes on both feet. She still trains with normal running shoes and runs with normal spikes because no shoe maker has obliged her repeated requests of making customised shoes. She still doesn’t have a job, but a lot of people have started helping her with finances. 

“I used to play football and kabaddi and gave trials at SAI but did not get selected. In 2012, Subhas Sarkar sir (coach) called me and I got in. My father would take me to the ground every day. He would take me there in the hope that someone would see me play and give me a job,” she said.

“Even though I haven’t gotten a job, a lot of people have started helping me. I am in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme. GoSports have also started taking care of me, so I am okay now.” Her family is well placed now, as she has started to earn. The only thing she wants to do right now is go back home. “My parents have not seen me in over an year and they are both crying to see me.”What would she like to eat after going home? Rosogullas. The other sweet she binges on.


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