Swapna Barman, an Asian Games gold medalist, has decided to retire due to depression brought on by a nagging back injury. A formal announcement might be made in the coming days. Swapna, a North East Frontier Railway athlete, won a gold medal in high jump at the 60th National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal less than 24 hours ago. Swapna, who has six toes on each foot, struggled with injuries after becoming the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold in Jakarta in 2018. She went on to win silver at the Asian Championships in Doha a year later, her final International competition.
“My body is not taking the toll anymore. Mentally, I’m very depressed and it’s not easy,” Swapna told Indian news agency PTI from Warangal. “I’m a bit confused, but I’ve mentally prepared 80-90 percent 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,” she added.
Swapna was unable to compete in any competition in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in 2021 she aimed for the Tokyo Games qualifying mark, but injuries and a second wave of the pandemic derailed all of her plans. She only competed in the Federation Cup and the ongoing Open Nationals this year. “It seems I was not destined for it. I tried hard but could not make it and struggled a lot with injuries,” she said.
Swapna had postponed the surgery on doctors’ advice and relied on rehabilitation, but she has had enough. “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. Last year, the athlete from Jalpaiguri in West Bengal was embroiled in controversy after her house was raided by forest department officials for alleged illegal possession of timber amid widespread 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.
Swapna won gold at the 2018 Asian Games despite suffering a jaw injury. She collapsed during the 800 metres of the final event of the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships – Women’s heptathlon. However, Barman had broken many of her personal records and had already accumulated enough points from the previous six events, including a fourth-place finish in the 800 metres.