Swapna Barman, the athlete with 12 toes, bags gold

Swapna Barman notched up 6026 points for a remarkable win, battling rivals as well as pain.

Born with six toes on each foot, heptathlete Swapna Barman won a historic gold at the 2018 Asian Games.   -  Reuters

Born with six toes on each foot, Indian heptathlete Swapna Barman won a historic gold at the Asian Games on Wednesday.

Barman notched up 6026 points for a remarkable win, battling rivals as well as pain. She competed over two days with a bandaged chin due to a toothache which caused her a lot of pain, especially in the high jump.

As day eleven progressed at the Asian Games

Hailing from Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, and from a family of very modest means, much of Swapna's initial athletics career saw her struggle to squeeze in her feet into conventional shoes. The extra width has forced her to make do with conventional footwear, ignore the pain and fight on.

“I don’t get shoes or spikes that fit my size, I’m wearing shoes made for people with five toes,” said Swapna.

“Whenever I wear warm-up shoes it’s very painful, just imagine what sort of pain I must be going through when I wear these jumping spikes and sprinting spikes.”

She competed in events over two days with a bandaged chin due to a toothache.   -  AFP

She has lived her father's dream in Jakarta. Panchanan Barman, her father, is bedridden ever since she was a child.

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“We could never provide nutritious food as required by a sportswoman to our daughter. I wish she becomes a world champion,” Panchanan said last year.

The sole breadwinner of the family, Panchanan was a rickshaw puller but a stroke several years ago confined him to the bed.

Swapna was a high jumper some five years ago but when she realised that she was not going to great heights, she turned to the heptathlon.

The country should be thankful she made the switch.