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Asian Games

Asian Games: Who is Barbara Webster, India's first women's shot put medallist?

It took 72 years for India to get its second women's shot put medallist at the Asian Games, with Kiran Baliyan winning bronze in Hangzhou. Before Kiran, Barbara Webster won women's shot put bronze at the 1951 Asiad in Delhi.

Asian Games: Who is Barbara Webster, Indias first womens shot put medallist?
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REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO: Barbara Webster is the first Indian female athlete to win two individual Asian Games athletics medals.

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 30 Sep 2023 2:24 AM GMT

Kiran Baliyan, 24, winning women's shot put bronze at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou on Friday brought a piece of history of Indian athletics into the limelight.

What is astonishing about Kiran's achievement is that it took India 72 years to get its second women's shot put medallist at the Asian Games.

By winning the medal in shot put, Kiran became the first Indian woman of the 21st century to claim the rare feat at the Asiad and second only to make a podium finish at the Asian Games since the inaugural edition of the quadrennial showpiece in 1951.

In the 1951 Asian Games held in Delhi, Barbara Webster, an athlete of Anglo-Indian heritage hailing from Bombay, won the bronze medal in women's shot put, India's first in the event. Webster won the medal with her best effort of 9.02 meters, as Japan's Toyoko Yoshino and Fumi Kojima claimed the gold and silver medals.

Yoshino, being the dominant shot putter in the event, created an Asian Games record with her best effort of 11.90m en route to clinching the gold medal, as Kojima won the silver medal with her best throw of 10.42m.

Though Webster did not set any Asian or world record in the 1951 Asiad, she successfully created one for India. She not only won the women's shot put bronze but also a women's javelin throw medal to become the first Indian female athlete ever to complete a rare double at the Asiad. In women's javelin throw, Webster finished third behind Japanese Yoshino, the gold medallist, and silver medallist Miyoko Kato.

Webster was among the five Anglo-Indian athletes who represented India at the 1951 Asian Games.

As an athlete, she was the epitome of versatility. In 1951, a month before the Asian Games, Webster, representing Mysore State, won the shot put, discus and javelin throw events at the National Track and Field Meet held at Ludhiana. Though she was undone in discus throw in the Delhi Games, she basked in the Asian Games glory by achieving the maiden feat of winning two athletics medals, a first for an Indian woman.

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