Heptathlete Swapna Barman nominated for Arjuna Award

Swapna happy for Arjuna nomination but disappointed for her coach not getting Dronacharya

Jalpaiguri girl Swapna, who has six toes on each feet, became the first Indian to win a heptathlon gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games. (File Photo)   -  GETTY IMAGES

Asian Games gold medal-winning heptathlete, Swapna Barman is excited to be chosen for the Arjuna Award, but disappointed for her coach Subhas Sarkar being snubbed for the Dronacharya Award.

Jalpaiguri girl Swapna, who has six toes on each feet, became the first Indian to win a heptathlon gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games. She had credited her coach Sarkar for the gold medal in Jakarta.

But Sarkar was ignored for the Dronacharya Award while Mohinder Singh Dhillon, coach of shot putter Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, was picked for the coveted honour by the selection panel.

“It feels extremely sad not to see Sir’s name in the list of Dronacharya. It’s all because of Sir that I’m getting this award. It’s a dream come true for me but I’m really sad for Sir,” Swapna told PTI on Saturday.

Sarkar, however, refused to comment on not getting the Dronacharya Award and instead focused on Swapna’s next target -- to achieve the Olympic qualification mark which is a stiff 6420 points.

Swapna’s personal best so far has been 6026 points and the Olympic qualification will be decided on the basis of ranking points in international events from January to June 2020.

Sarkar said the Arjuna Award would motivate Swapna to achieve the Olympic qualification.

“Now we will begin preparation to qualify for 2020 Olympics. Of course, it will motivate her big time. If she wins another gold at Asian Games or Asian Championships and qualify for Olympics maybe she would be a strong contender for Khel Ratna or a Padmashri,” Sarkar said.

“Arjuna is a first step, it’s always to be appreciated. It’s a big recognition from the society. Awards are always encouraging as it’s a recognition for your hard work. This is for the first time after Soma Biswas, a Bengal athlete got an Arjuna.