‘Bit Far’ From Tokyo Olympics Dream: Heptathlete Swapna Barman

Battling injuries, heptathlete Swapna Barman competed in just two events this year.

Olympic Sports
2 min read

Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya


With a gold at the Asian Games last year, Swapna Barman introduced India to Heptathlon, a command event that she describes as one of the toughest in athletics. Competed over two days, the event includes 100m, Hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, 200m, Long Jump, 800m and Javelin.

“For these seven events, you have to work very, very hard. Each event and its technique. Thinking about these, you have no space to think about anyone else,” says Swapna.

“And on top of that, the pain in the feet... What should I say?” she adds. With six toes on each foot, and a height she was told was ‘unsuitable’ for her event, but Swapna fought pain and perception to become the first Indian heptathlete to win a gold at the Asian Games. And hence fittingly picked ‘I am Perfect’ as her personalised badge on her Adidas VRCT jacket, a fresh take on the classic varsity look with self-expression as the new theme for an individual to tell their story.

“People say, ‘You have six toes’, ‘You won’t be able to do well in the future’, ‘You are short so you won’t be able to move forward’, ‘You’re not suitable for your event’. But I think, however I am, I’m fine. I’m okay for myself, perfect.”
Swapna Barman

The 22-year-old, who lived a humble life in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri, had initially gone to the Sports Authority of India facility in Kolkata just for High Jump. But her coach’s suggestion to multiply her events by seven saw Swapna’s career take a completely different turn six years ago.

“When I went to SAI in 2012, it was just for High Jump. However then, sir and many others had said ‘What kind of a girl is this, she’s so short. How will she do high jump.’ Even I thought to myself, ‘How will I do high jump. Everyone is saying it too’. But I thought to myself, it’s fine. I trust sir and will do what he says. In 2013, the coach changed my event. He said, ‘You know how to do high jump and long jump, and everyone can do running. So you should try Heptathlon’. I said, ‘what is Heptathlon’. Then he explained it to me, and I said, ‘Let’s do it’,” said Swapna.


Swapna Sets Sight on Tokyo Olympics

Battling injuries, Swapna participated in just two tournaments this year before deciding to take the year off to undergo rehab. She bagged a silver at the Asian Championships in April with an aggregate of 5993 points, less than the 6026 that she had accumulated in the Asian Games in Jakarta last year.

Swapna needs a stiff 6420 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and she has no qualms in admitting that she is a ‘bit far’ from the mark.

“I’m a bit far (from the Olympic qualification mark). But it’s fine. I’m going to try my best. And compete in all the tournaments in 2020.”
Swapna Barman

“In 2019, I have only competed in two competitions. One was Asian Championships, and the other was Federation Cup. Now if my aim is Olympics, I want my injury to get completely healed. So I’m concentrating on the injury right now. I do rehab everyday.”

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Topics:  Swapna Barman 

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