Swapna Barman may have become the first Indian heptathlete to win a gold at the Asian Games but she rues that she could not achieve her best in some of the events, which made the contest a tight one in the end.
“I could not do my best in high jump, 200m, 100m hurdles. High jump is the event I used to do the best. But it did not happen in Jakarta. Fortunately, I did well in javelin and that in a way compensated,” the 21-year-old Barman said in an interaction.
Shot put and long jump are the other two events in heptathlon.
Barman collected 6026 points, her career best, to win the gold. Her earlier best total from the seven events was 5942. The national record of 6211 still stands in the name of J J Shobha since 2004.
“6000 points is big but I could have done better. But I am happy to have won the gold in Asian Games in spite of so many injuries I have been carrying in the last one year and also during this Asian Games,” she added.
Barman competed in the two-day event with a taped right cheek to lessen pain arising out of teeth infection.
“The teeth problem arose two days before the competition and the pain was severe. I was having a slight knee injury also which I have been carrying since the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar last year. But I never thought of dropping out of the event,” she said.
“Subhash Sarkar sir (her personal coach) told me to continue and I was determined to continue.”
Asked how she recovered after trailing behind China’s Qingling Wang on the first day of the event to win the gold, she said: “The lead (by the Chinese) was not much and so I keep trying. Then I did well in javelin and then I was leading.
“In the last event (800m), I told myself I will do whatever she (the Chinese) do and so I was not bothered about the race, I was bothered about finishing ahead of the Chinese,” she said.
Barman finished fourth in the 800m ahead of Wang to take the gold.
She also had made appeals to provide her customised shoes for her ‘abnormal’ feet.
“I have not heard anything about any offer on that front. But it will be good if somebody does that.”
Meanwhile, Hima Das, who returned from the Asian Games with a gold and two silver, said she was happy with her performance. She won a gold in women’s 4x400m relay and silver each in women’s 400m and mixed 4x400m relay.
She set two national records in two days. She qualified for the final with a national record time of 51 seconds and then clocked 50.79 seconds to win the silver. Bahrain’s Salwa Naser won the gold in a new Games record time 50.09 seconds.
“I was not expecting gold in 400m but we were expecting a gold in the mixed 4x400m relay. Eventually, we won a silver (in mixed relay) but that is also all right as we were running for the first time,” she said.
Asked is she was nervous before the start of the women’s 400 m final as the eventual gold winner was the outright favourite to win the gold, the 18-year-old Assamese said, “I did not know much about her and I did not want to know also. It does not matter to me. So, I was not nervous.
“When I go out for a race, I don’t think of medal, I only think of improving my timing. So, I could improve my timing this time also though I did not win a gold.”