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Swapna Barman is an Indian heptathlete. She has won several medals in both national level competitions as well as in international competitions. She has been the first Indian female heptathlete to have clinched the coveted gold medal in the Asian Games in 2018. The 26-year-old heptathlete from a remote village, Ghoshpara near Jalpaiguri, West Bengal has also won gold and silver medals in a prestigious competition like Asian Championship. Swapna received the Arjuna award in 2019. Last year also, Swapna, despite suffering from pain due to food poisoning, ensured a gold medal in her event and then made it double with another gold medal in the National Games in Gujarat. Still, Swapna Barman felt her performance in the National Games was not satisfactory as she was scoring around 5800 points.
Fighting against odds
Competing had always been a painful experience for Barman since the beginning of her career. She had come from acute poverty. Her father was a rickshaw driver but got bedridden following a stroke in 2013. Her mother somehow managed to earn by working in a tea estate. Swapna used to face continuous pain as she had unusual six toes on each foot and she did not have the affordability to buy wide running shoes. She got a customized shoe from a renowned multinational company in 2018 for the first time before clinching the first-ever gold as a female Indian heptathlete.
Then Swapna had to battle with a lot of injuries. A grade 3 meniscus tear to her knee during the Asian Games has been compounded by a deterioration of the cartilage between her spinal discs. After the 2018 Asian Games, she was able to participate in only a single international competition. That was the Asian Championships in 2019. She could hardly take part in domestic competitions due to injuries. Simultaneously, Swapna had to face the crisis of not having any proper training ground in Jalpaiguri also. Then she was embroiled in a controversy about the illegal possession of timber. Still, Swapna did not give up, and following continuous inspiration from her coach Subash Sarkar and her family members, she resumed training at the SAI center, Kolkata in October last year.
Swapna Barman, who is an employee of Indian Railways, registered her name with Madhya Pradesh last year. Even though Swapna clarified that Subhas Sarkar would likely settle in Madhya Pradesh after retirement from a coach’s job at SAI, Kolkata. It is believed that Swapna was frustrated after being deprived of the facilities in West Bengal. She had repeatedly appealed to the West Bengal government for a piece of land close to the SAI training center in Kolkata which she has not yet been allotted. When considering the issue of cash incentives, Swapna was upset as she had not yet received a worthy cash incentive from her home state. The Madhya Pradesh government has given her around Rs 5 lakh cash incentive after she clinched double gold medals in the National Games.
Swapna has been selected for the Indian team for the forthcoming Asian Indoor Championship, scheduled to be held in February. Setting her focus on this championship, Swapna also revealed she aspires to take her score to 6000 again which she acquired once in 2018.
“I wish to make a rebirth by winning gold again in the Asian Games this year and I am confident that scoring 6000 or a little more will steer me to win the coveted gold medal once again.”
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