For Swapna Barman, life has changed drastically after the Asian Games. Barman is India’s first heptathlon gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games.

But the shortcoming of the medal for her is that she has raised the nation’s hopes of more medals. And that scares her and makes her nervous. The reaction is not unnatural, considering fame has struck her in a very short period of time. She was mostly an unknown name, before her gold-winning performance. She became an overnight sensation thereafter. Her performance was especially praised among others, was because of the fact that she had to battle a severe toothache and back injury.

I sometimes feel I am dreaming“: Swapna Barman

Swapna Barman KreedOn
Swapna Barman after winning the 2018 Asian Games Heptathlon Image Credit

“Life has changed but I have not changed. People’s approach has changed,” says Barman,” I sometimes feel I am dreaming or sleeping.” She was speaking at the India Today’s East Conclave 2018.

“I am scared now. Earlier my parents and coach wanted me to win, to do well,” she added, “Now, all my countrymen want me to win an Olympic medal. That expectation makes me nervous … thinking what if I can’t deliver.”

2022 Asian  Games gold more realistic than

2020 Olympic podium finish: Barman’s coach

Talking about people’s Olympic expectations, Subhas Sarkar, Barman’s coach, shed further light on the topic. He suggested retaining her gold in 2022 Asian Games would be more realistic than immediately expecting a podium finish in the Tokyo Olympics from the 21-year-old heptathlete.

Swapna reached a career-best aggregate of 6026 points. But for the Olympics podium finish, she has to raise the bar to 6700-plus. That will certainly be a far cry, considering the 2020 Tokyo games is less than two years away. In fact, the qualifying mark for Rio 2016 was 6200 points.

Speaking on the subject of Olympics, she says she will practice even more.

Homecoming

After her on-field achievements, when she returned home, she was amazed by a huge crowd waiting to welcome her.

“When I reached home, I did not expect so many people would come to meet me. I did not even think someone would cry for me,” she says, “My mother cried a lot, I had not gone home for a year.”

A video of Barman’s mother crying profusely after she won the gold went viral shortly thereafter. “It went viral that even the Prime Minister mentioned it to me,” she chuckles.

Swapna was talking at a session titled ‘The Golden Stars – Fast, Fierce, Fantastic which also had other notable women athletes such as Indian Cricketer, Jhulan Goswami, and former Indian Women’s Hockey captain, Rani Rampal.

Monish Gadiya is a Pune-based writer/reporter who mainly covers football and badminton for publication on KreedOn. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in civil engineering. He has also done a post-graduate diploma course in creative writing. He has represented his college at various district-level footballing competitions.

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