With the Tokyo Olympics postponement, the road to the event is wide open for her. She is now desperate to get on the field and practice with the hope that she will be able to meet the standard of the qualifications at the Olympics. But there is no place where golden girl Swapna Barman can train.
All athletes were asked to evacuate Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Kolkata hostel in Salt Lake for the lockdown. Like others, Barman had to return to her home in Jalpaiguri. The backyard of the house is now the practice ground for the girl who won gold in the heptathlon event at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018. The Jalpaiguri Stadium, where Barman has trained all these years, is now being used as a centre to house patients suffering from coronavirus. In an interview with the Bengali daily, Anandabazar Patrika, Swapna said, “The stadium is being used to heal people suffering from Corona to heal people, which has to be the primary focus now, with peoples’ lives in danger. I do not have a field of practice. As a result, I am trying to do what my coach Subhash Sir (Sarkar) from Kolkata is telling me to do. But if I had known that everything would be closed for so long, I would have brought some equipment here at home.”
How are you following the instructions of the coach? Swapna said, “I am jogging in the backyard. I am practising to increase other physical abilities. There are no dumbbells or any other tools to increase muscle strength. So I am lifting my nephew with both hands. There is nothing more to do.”In order to qualify for the Olympics, 6,200 points were needed in seven heptathlon events. After recovering from an injury, Barman scored 6,000 while training at the SAI campus. She was hoping to take part at the national and inter-state qualifiers in June.
The Union Sports Ministry has imposed various restrictions on SAI hostels for Corona, ranging from regular sanitization to food and drink. As a result, SAI officials are reluctant to compromise on the health of athletes. They do not want to do anything in a hurry. So it is difficult to return to practice now. Barman’s coach Subhash told Anandabazar, “Swapna has gone crazy to come to SAI and train. She has been asking me to make arrangements. But the instruction to practice has not come here yet. Then various rules will be introduced to practice according to the social distance. So I told her to practice at home and stay physically fit.”
However, Swapna, seems running out of patience. She said, “Time is running out. Nothing will happen in this practice. There is also the factor of the right diet, which is not being met at home. Competition dates will be announced at any time. I have to go to the Olympics this time. If I can practice properly, I will qualify.”