Swapna Barman, on Wednesday, became the first Indian to win gold in the heptathlon event at the Asian Games. The 21-year-old was competing in the final 800m leg of the event with a toothache and managed to keep her lead intact. She accumulated a total of 6026 points over two days to take the yellow metal. This was India’s 11th gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
Barman, who has six toes in both her feet, produced her best performance and logged 6026 points from the seven events competed for two days. She won the high jump (1003 points) and javelin throw (872 points) events and finished second-best in shot put (707 points) and long jump (865 points). Her weakest returns were in the 100m (981 points, 5th position) and 200m in which she finished seventh with 790 points.
“I have got this gold on the National Sports day, so it’s really special. 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,” PTI quoted Swapna as saying.
Asked if she would like some companies to manufacture customised shoes for her, she said, “Definitely. It will make life easy.”
Going into the 800m run, the last of the seven-event competition, Barman was leading China’s Qingling Wang by 64 points. She needed a good run in the concluding event, in which she eventually finished fourth.
It was the same event after which she had collapsed during the Asian Athletics Championship last year in Bhubaneswar but despite finishing fourth today, she emerged a champion.
Another Indian in the fray, Purnima Hembram was 18 points behind Japan’s Yuki Yamasaki, going into the 800m run, but she finished just ahead of Barman and overall fourth with 5837 points.
Qingling (5954) won the silver and Yamasaki the bronze medal with 5873points.
Before Barman, only Bengal’s Soma Biswas and Karnataka’s J J Shobha and Pramila Aiyappa had returned with a medal from the Asian Games.
Biswas and Shobha had finished two-three at both Busan Asian Games (2002) and the Doha Games (2006), while Pramila had won a bronze at the Guangzhou edition.
(with PTI inputs)