On Wednesday, 21-year-old Swapna Barman made history. She made the entire country beam with pride after winning India’s first ever heptathlon gold medal in the Asian Games. And what a victory!
Pain is the best motivator. 💪Glad to have won a historic gold medal in Women's Heptathlon in the @asiangames2018 for my country.
Thank you everyone for the endless love and support! 🇮🇳 #AsianGames2018 #TeamIndiaAthletics pic.twitter.com/Mcsw6oHbSW
— Swapna Barman (@Swapna_Barman96) 30 August 2018
However, it has not been an easy journey for the young athlete. Her father, a rickshaw puller, has been bedridden due to a stroke since she was a child, and her mother, a tea estate worker and a house help, was the only one who supported the family. Plus, the young star was also born with twelve toes, meaning she had to wear customised shoes - something the family couldn’t afford.
All her life, she has trained wearing shoes that weren’t an ideal fit. As if all this wasn’t enough, a day before the Asian Games, she suffered from an excruciating toothache, so she actually competed with a bandage on her cheek to soothe the pain.
— India@AsianGames2018 (@India_AllSports) 29 August 2018
Despite all this though, she has managed to fight the odds and make her country proud. “I use normal shoes worn by people who have normal five toes. It really pains during training. It is very uncomfortable, whether I wear spikes or normal shoes,” explained a triumphant Swapna.
The gold was India’s 54th medal in the on-going Asian Games and the fifth gold in athletics alone.
When the 21-year-old was bidding farewell to her mother in her village, Ghospara in North Bengal she said, “Medal na jitle bari firbo na (won’t return home unless I win a medal).” Today, the dream has come true.
Swapna Barman has 12 toes in her feet. Struggled a lot without custom shoes.
Now India's very first heptathlete to win an #AsianGames gold!!
From a poor village family in Jalapaiguri, West Bengal. Her mother worked in tea garden. Father was a rickshaw puller till he had stroke. pic.twitter.com/FyXeaUHBfx
— Kiran Kumar S (@KiranKS) 29 August 2018
The journey from Bengal to Indonesia hasn’t been an easy one, but she has now stood victorious and we couldn’t be more proud. Also, let's take Swapna's plea of having customised shoes forward, it's the least we could for our athletes.
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