Asian Games gold medalist Swapna Barman mulls retirement, says ‘I’m very depressed’


Kolkata: Battling depression due to a nagging back injury, Asian Games gold medal winning athlete Swapna Barman has decided to call it quits, a formal announcement of which will be made in a few days. The decision comes less than 24 hours after Swapna, a North East Frontier Railway athlete, won a gold medal in high jump at the 60th National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal.

“My body is not taking the toll anymore. Mentally, I’m very depressed and it’s not easy,” Swapna told PTI from Warangal. “I’m a bit confused, but I’ve mentally prepared 80-90 per cent to call it quits. I will make the ‘big’ announcement after reaching Kolkata.”

“I never wanted to participate, but because of Railway commitments I had to participate here,” Swapna, who skipped her pet heptathlon event in Warangal, said. 

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After becoming the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold in Jakarta 2018, Swapna, who has six toes on each foot, struggled with injuries and won a silver at the Asian Championships in Doha a year later, which was her last international competition.

The lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Swapna could not take part in any competition in 2020 and while in 2021 she aimed for the Tokyo Games qualifying mark but again injuries and a second wave of the pandemic derailed all her plans. This year, she took part only in the Federation Cup and at the ongoing Open Nationals.

“It seems I was not destined for it. I tried hard but could not make it and struggled a lot with injuries,” she said. 

READ | Manika Batra left out of Asian TT Championships team after ‘match-fixing’ allegation against coach

Swapna had delayed the surgery on doctors’ advice and relied on rehab but she said she had enough of it. “Ultimately I have to go for the surgery, even during this meet I was troubled by the back pain. It does not feel well anymore,” an emotional Swapna said with a choked voice.

The Jalpaiguri athlete was also mired in controversy last year after her house was raided by forest department officials for alleged illegal possession of timber as there were wide protests in the area.

“People are jealous of my achievements and my mother is subjected to a lot of harassment. I can’t take it anymore. I’ve to be with my family and deal with it,” she concluded.

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