India’s first ever heptathlon champion at the Asian Games, Swapna Barman made history when she beat the odds to become the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games gold.
She did so with a bandaged chin and severe toothache. But that wasn't all.
The hardships Barman faced, having being born with an extra finger in each of her feet and enduring hurdles throughout her career, make her victory even more special.
In a post for Humans of Bombay -- a page that catalogs real-life stories, Barman narrates her initial days and how her determination earned her a shining gold at the prestigious Asian Games.
"My father was a rickshaw puller who became a mechanic. Often, I would accompany him to work and fix cycles. My mother worked in a tea plantation -- we’ve had a simple and happy childhood. I knew from very early on that I wanted to work hard and get a good job...that’s actually how I got into playing sports."
Barman, however, had a different goal while getting into sports.
"My parents also thought that putting me in sports would be an easy way to get a job of a police officer. That was my mindset, be good at sports and then get a job."
She also talked about her 12 toes that made headlines when she emerged victorious.
"I had 12 toes, It hurt to wear normal shoes or train, but I didn’t want to share my discomfort with my family -- I just quietly trained harder."
In the post, Barman also said that she wasn't alone. Her loving parents backed her dreams and their support was incremental while she was toiling hard. "My parents were working double time to afford my diet, my clothes and my training, all this outside noise didn’t bother me."
And when she was called 'short and fat,' by her coach, Barman took it upon herself to prove him wrong.
"In 2011, my sir told me I should leave sports, especially high jump because I was ‘short and fat’. I made this my motivation to prove him wrong and within one year, I won so many competitions that he took it upon himself to train me personally. Side by side, I was scraping through college exams...my routine has been rigorous."
If these hardships were not enough already, Barman's father suffered from a stroke. But he insisted her to keep training and make her game better.
After a decade of hard work, grit and determination, Barman did the unimaginable.
"My training reached another level, still I lost some major competitions...but it’s a mind game -- I never looked at anything as failure, only as practice. And finally everything I’ve been training for since the past decade won me Gold at the Asian Games Heptathlon. My parents saw me on TV and cried because they saw me running with my jaw bandaged -- but it was a minor hurdle!"
Have become an even bigger admirer of Swapna Barmam after coming to know of the struggles she had to go through. 6 toes in each leg, bandaged jaw, father a rickshaw puller and countless struggles. This is her mother watching her win the Gold on television, thanking the almighty pic.twitter.com/GNBVPw1kDO — Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 30, 2018
"But no, this is not a ‘struggle’ story -- my life has been happy and everyday I thank God for giving me so much," Barman concludes.
You can read the entire post here: