2018 Aug 31
Every once in a while, there’s a story which captures the attention of the entire world and someone who accomplishes an incredible feat that leaves the world stunned.
On the 29th of August, Indian athlete Swapna Burman bagged the historic Heptathlon Gold medal at the Asian Games. By achieving her personal best score of 6026 points in the seven-event competition, she became the first ever Indian woman to win an Asian Games Heptathlon Gold, and that too against all odds.
On both financial and physical grounds, one might say the odds were stacked against Burman. Despite having a severe toothache, a bandaged jaw, and constant pain, Burman emerged victorious. Born with six toes on each foot, Swapna faced problems that very few athletes could possibly even relate to. Finding the right type of shoes that would fit her and the added pain when landing due to the extra width of her feet were just a few of these.
Swapna’s father, Panchanan Burman, was a rickshaw puller who has been bedridden for the past few years due to a stroke, while her mother currently works a maid. The journey hasn’t been easy, and for Swapna it’s all just beginning. Speaking with the press she said, “I need a decent job. My family is not financially strong and I feel they had sacrificed a lot for me. A job would have helped me to focus more on my game”. The event itself was a long haul, as she battled through the 100m, 200m, and the shot put events.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced an INR 10 lakh cash prize and the offer of a government job as well.
Despite everything, the future looks bright for Swapna. Qualifying for the London World Championship, Swapna is beyond overwhelmed by the turn of events.
Constantly facing obstacles on every front didn’t stop Swapna Burman from getting to where she is today. Her story brings pride not just to India, but to the entire world. Courage, commitment, and perseverance are universal traits that should always be admired.
Burman’s story is the stuff of legends – something that should inspire everyone, no matter what country you hail from.