5 events, 12 toes and a stick­ler for fig­ures!


I did not think that I would come this far. An Asian Games gold was be­yond my imag­i­na­tion.

Swapna Bar­man is very par­tic­u­lar about num­bers. Ev­ery time her coach, Sub­hash Sarkar, gets a fig­ure wrong, the hep­tath­lete cor­rects him.

The coach, for his part, has been cor­rect­ing Swapna’s tech­nique and mould­ing her to be a bet­ter ath­lete for the last six years.

“It would have not been pos­si­ble to come so far with­out his help,” Swapna ad­mits. The sea­soned coach, who has been with the ath­lete through thick and thin, has played a parental role in guid­ing his ward to glory, too.

The Asian Games gold medal­list and her coach spoke to Sport­star on a range of is­sues.

The coun­try cel­e­brated Swapna’s Asian Games suc­cess. As a coach, could you tell us how chal­leng­ing a jour­ney it was?


It was a big chal­lenge. Her physique is not con­ducive for high jump or hep­tathlon. If you are a high jumper, the lower leg should be stronger, the body weight should be less and you must be skinny. It is also im­por­tant to have a good height. Swapna does not have much sim­i­lar­ity with the tra­di­tional high jumpers. The only thing that worked for her was the fact that she had very good jump­ing power. So we cashed in on that and tried get­ting the best out of her. That was the be­gin­ning, but I re­alised a lit­tler later that she could fare well in hep­tathlon. I am happy that my in­stinct was right and the move paid off. That’s what a coach is sup­posed to do — spot tal­ent, choose the right event and then make the most of the tal­ent. I am par­tially suc­cess­ful.

When you saw her for the first time, did you feel that this girl had enough po­ten­tial?


Like Swapna, even I come from Jal­paig­uri. So, dur­ing one of my vis­its home


Pi­o­neer­ing ef­fort: Swapna Bar­man de­liv­ers a first for In­dia — the hep­tathlon gold at the Asian Games.

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