Swapna Barman: Don’t want to experience this kind of break ever again

Heptathlete Swapna Barman has been lifting her nieces and nephew for some squats to keep fit as her fitness equipment is stuck in SAI, Kolkata. She is confined to her home in Jalpaiguri.

Swapna Barman during the Javelin Throw for Heptathlon at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019.   -  FILE PHOTO/ AP

It’s been more than two months that Swapna Barman, the heptathlete, is confined to her home with her family in Jalpaiguri. She arrived home from the Sports Authority of India, Kolkata, where she trains, for a week’s break on March 19 and didn’t anticipate the lockdown; with all her equipment and gear at the campus, she had to make do with basic exercises at home, including lifting her nieces and nephew for some squats, all this while.

“This was the first time after nine years that I’m getting to spend so much time together at home. I don’t want to have this kind of a break ever again,” Swapna told Sportstar on phone from Jalpaiguri.

The urge to return to training is strong, but she wants the COVID-19 crisis to abate before resuming.

“If they do open the premises for training, it will be very good for us. We’ll be able to practise. I’m a heptathlete; I have to learn many techniques, and I have to train for many disciplines. I’m not able to do much in the courtyard; just some basic exercises. If the ground opens, I would like to go. However, the COVID-19 cases are going up. Let the situation stabilise a bit, then I’ll be able to focus solely on my training when I return,” Swapna said.

READ| P.T. Usha's son Vignesh 'getting back' to sport in his own way

Swapna had been training to be in peak fitness in the lead-up to the Olympics, for which she hopes to qualify. After spending much of 2019 recovering from injury – a meniscus tear – she was gearing up for the Olympic qualifiers before the pandemic impeded her progress.

“Last year, I went to Mumbai and consulted a doctor. I was told to do certain exercises to improve my strength level, and I do that even today. I have practised a lot for the Olympic trials. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to qualify for the Olympics but I haven’t left hope and so I practised a lot for the trials. The virus brought everything to a halt,” she said.

She added: “But the coronavirus has spread worldwide, so everyone’s suffering. Athletes from other countries are suffering, too.”

For the moment, therefore, she is spending time with her family. “I try to cope by just spending time with the kids - eight-year-old Adrija, two-year-old Adrishya, and five-year-old Ankit - and help my sister-in-law cook food – cut vegetables, etc. I practice a bit, too,” she said.

READ| WADA looks to artificial intelligence to catch dopers

She pays a lot of attention to her diet, as that is something she can control. “I like to have sweets, especially the rasgulla, but I’m not having it. Plenty of green vegetables are available here. I’m having vegetables, and instead of roti, I’m having rice, because everyone at home is used to eating rice. Rotis are cooked only occasionally. And I occasionally take chicken as well; although I don’t like it, I have it for health reasons,” she said.

And she cannot participate in online classes or discussions, either. “I do have the Internet at home, but haven’t been able to participate in webinars, etc. as the connection is very slow and intermittent.”

And outdoors are out of bounds. “I have a ground nearby where I can go and train, but now they are covered with slush due to rain. Also, if I go out, it doesn’t look nice that I’m training outdoors and the rest are indoors to prevent the spread of the virus,” she pointed out.

As far as her plan post resumption of training is concerned, she awaits instructions and guidance from her coach, Subhash Sarkar. “I have put on some weight, although that’s not a big problem. I have to first improve my fitness level. I will aim to get to a reasonable level within a week or so,” she said.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.