Asian Games: It Took A While, But Swapna Barman Finally Finds The Right Foot

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Asian Games: It Took A While, But Swapna Barman Finally Finds The Right Foot

Asian Games: It Took A While, But Swapna Barman Finally Finds The Right Foot

The first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold, Swapna Barman on Wednesday made a plea to provide her more customised shoes for her ‘abnormal’ feet.

Barman, who has six toes in both her feet, produced her career-best performance on Wednesday logging 6026 aggregate points from the seven events spread across two days. She competed with a tape on her right cheek to lessen pain arising out of teeth infection.

For Swapna Barman, this was a mishap. Four years ago in Incheon, she had finished fifth as a 17-year-old. Now on the comeback trail, her competition had been derailed before it even began.

With seven gruelling events to follow in two days, Barman was facing the biggest test of her life. Fighting through the pain, she came away with the biggest medal of her career.

Barman had faced an additional challenge as she was born with 12 toes which makes it near impossible for her to wear standard competition footwear.

“I have been having this pain ever since I started competing. I make do with normal five-toed shoes but it makes me severely uncomfortable,” says Barman.

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.

Asked about the tape on her cheek she said, it was to lessen the pain in her teeth.

I used to eat a lot of chocolates, so I have a teeth problem. It started paining two days before the event. It was severe but I could not let years of hard work go waste. So I forgot the pain and gave my best. First day, I thought I won’t be able to compete. It was unbearable. I thought what will happen to my hard work, I had to do it. I forgot the pain.
Fighting through pain, returning from an injury, Barman dug in to become the best heptathlete in Asia. The likes of Nafissatou Thiam and Katarina Johnson-Thomson might be in their own class for now, but Swapna’s stature ahead of next year’s World Championships continues to grow. JJ Shobha’s national record of 6211 points should fall soon.

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