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Athletics

Rising Above Controversy: Nandini Agasara Triumphs in Heptathlon

Asian Games bronze medalist Nandini Agasara made a comeback after eight months to win gold in Heptathlon at the Federation Cup Athletics.

Rising Above Controversy: Nandini Agasara Triumphs in Heptathlon
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By

Pritish Raj

Updated: 17 May 2024 4:02 AM GMT

Bhubaneswar: Asian Games bronze medalist heptathlete Nandini Agasara made her comeback to the field after eight months and won the gold medal in the Heptathlon at the Federation Cup Athletics in Bhubaneswar.

The 21-year-old from Telangana scored 5460 points in the heptathlon to win the top laurel.

"Honestly, I didn't do what I was expecting. But I just wanted to compete and win as I am coming back from rest, mouth surgery, and injuries," Nandini told The Bridge on the sidelines.

While she won the gold, her performance was far from her personal best which she recorded at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Asian Games: Medal and Controversy

On the one hand, Nandini won the bronze medal in China at the expense of 2018 Asiads gold medalist heptathlete Swapna Barman, and on the other hand, Swapna Barman alleged Nandini of being transgender.

However, she offered an unconditional apology but the damage was done sending Nandini into oblivion for some time.

"I forgot the controversy at the same time as it was irrelevant to me. I wanted to focus more on my performance and earn the applause instead of focusing on negative things," said Nandini when asked about the controversy.

It was ridiculous to think that Nandini looked at Swapna as an inspiration and after the Asiads, the perspective hasn't been the same.

"I always liked her (Swapna Barman) and wanted to perform like her. I started the event Heptathlon and was constantly following her. But we haven't talked after the Asian Games," explained Nandini.

Not only the athlete but also the family by affected when such allegations came to light but somehow Nandini's family escaped that due to the language barrier.

"My parents don't understand Hindi, so that is one added advantage. They had no idea what happened and it was good or else they would have been hurt by those comments," said Nandini.

Whatever happened in Asiads is not going to change but Nandini picked up the positive side of her journey in China by embracing the change after the medal.

Talking about what has changed, Nandini said, " Yeah, few things have changed now as some people recognize me now. I had never thought that I would get a medal and that too at the Asian Games. It was a big medal which even shocked my parents and now they are very happy."

What next for Nandini?

Currently, Nandini is targeting the qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics but the target looks tough given the qualifying criteria is higher than her personal best.

She needs to score 6480 to qualify via the entry standards while her personal best is 5712 which she scored at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Due to the less number of tournaments, Nandini is not a part of the ranking list for the Heptathlon qualification at the moment. However, she is positive about getting more international medals.

"I am looking at all the tournaments that can act as the Olympic qualification mark. If not this time, I will start preparing for the next Olympics. I am pretty sure about playing in the next Asian Games and winning there again," concluded Nandini.

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