Asian Games gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman Friday refused to comment on the Rs 10 lakh reward announced by the West Bengal government but said she would love to have a house in the city near her training base. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had promised Barman Rs 10 lakh and a government job a day after she scripted history by winning India’s first-ever heptathlon gold medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta.
The announcement had come in for a lot of criticism with Haryana offering Rs 3 crore to each of their gold medalists while neighbouring Odisha also announced Rs 3 crore to sprinter Dutee Chand who won two silver medals.
“I have no comments. I have heard that the government has promised jobs to me and my brother. I have got a lot of offers and I am yet to decide,” Barman told reporters on the sidelines of her felicitation function at the SAI complex.
Asked whether she has anything she wants from the state government, she said: “My only wish is to have a permanent residence near the SAI complex (in Salt Lake). I stay at the SAI complex now but if my performance is not there, I won’t have a place to stay. So it would be hugely beneficial if the government could help me get a house.”
Barman said the turning point in her career was in 2015 when she left home with a lot of frustration and did not return for three months. “Sir (Subhash Sarkar) called me several times and urged me to come back to Jalpaiguri. I am very short-tempered. I had almost given up but I returned only for Sir. This day would not have come if I did not listen to him that day,” she recalled.
Asked about the winning moment in Jakarta, Barman said it was while running the 800m she realised she was going to clinch the gold.
The SAI Eastern Centre also felicitated other Asian Games participants, gymnasts Pranati Das, Mandira Hazra Chowdhury and Pranati Nayak, as well as handball goalkeeper Nina Shil.
Asian Games gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman will undergo a series of medical tests and may opt for surgery if required on her problematic lower back, her coach Subhas Sarkar said Friday.
Barman, who became the first Indian heptathlete to win a gold in the Asian Games, had said she was carrying injuries while competing in Jakarta. She has been having problems at her lumbar (lower back) region since the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar where she had won a gold and was also carrying minor knee injuries.
“Last time, I did not take the risk of surgery because of the Asian Games but now we will see what is her condition. She may have to go for a surgery we will see what the doctor’s advice after MRI and CT scans,” Sarkar told PTI on the sidelines of a SAI felicitation here.
Sarkar said Barman’s medical treatment was the priority now. “Bhangachora gari niye besi dur egono jabena (Can’t run with a broken car). She can collapse if she competes now,” he said.
“I have not kept any major competition for her in 2019. I will not make her compete till she fully recovers. The priority is to make her injury free for which she may even have to go through surgery,” he added.
Barman will first seek an appointment from a dentist to treat her tooth infection which also had bothered her in Jakarta and then head home in Jalpaiguri for a break of one to two weeks.
“It will be quite an emotional thing as I will meet my family after more than a year (after winning gold at Asian Championships in July last year). My mother always asks ‘tui bhalo achis toh’ (hope you are doing well). I am missing them a lot,” she said.
After she returns to Kolkata from home, Barman and her coach will travel to Mumbai to meet Dr Anant Joshi to ascertain the exact nature of her injuries. Sarkar said as of now an Olympic medal is too far-fetched a dream for Barman. “The realistic aim is to break the national record and score 6300-plus next year. She can achieve if she keeps her focus,” he said.
The coach recalled the plight Barman underwent a few months back as Barman was on the verge of being ruled out days before her Asian Games departure. “We have been making rounds to Mumbai for her treatment and I was told that she should skip as it would be quite an embarrassment if she pulls out in Jakarta. There would have been questions.”
Such was the situation that Barman had to undergo trials on July 16, Sarkar recalled. “But she passed the trials with flying colours. Then after landing in Jakarta, the toothache surfaced. I told her to give her best and compete without targeting medals,” he said.
Many have contributed in Barman’s success, including the roadside tea seller who would give me tea on time as the practice would stretch beyond time, Sarkar said. “I remember Gopal would make sure to bring tea that kept me going. Now everyone is happy for her and this gives me the true satisfaction,” he signed off.