Asian Games 2018: The good, better, best; never let it rest

Success stories of Swapna Barman, Dharun Ayyasamy and Hima Das, and many others who have defied all odds to win medals at the Asian Games underscore the sweat and tears behind the glory

Rohit Bhandiye

It takes years of hard work, dedication and dogged determination to win a medal in a multi-sport event like the Asian Games. The success stories of Swapna Barman, Dutee Chand, Manjit Singh, Dharun Ayyasamy and Hima Das, who have defied all odds and difficulties to win medals for the country at the recently concluded Asian Games in Jakarta underscore the sweat and tears behind the glory.

Swapna Barman, whose father is a rickshaw-puller and mother a worker in a tea garden, did not have money even to buy special shoes to accommodate the extra width of her feet, each containing six toes. Apart from these, she was ravaged with ankle, knee and back injuries over the last year. Compounding her problems, Swapna was even suffering from a severe toothache before she competed in her heptathlon event in Jakarta. Swapna ran like a brave girl with a bandaged jaw in her final event, overcoming these massive odds and went on to win the Gold with a personal best score of 6,026 points.

“I hope people will remember me for winning the Gold than for my toes. It’s like a new identity for me. After all, nobody from India had won a heptathlon Gold at the Asian Games before,” said a visibly excited Swapna after her historic win.

Hima Das, the country’s latest athletics queen, was born into a family of rice farmers in Kandhulimari village in Assam. The 18-year-old runner’s feat, who broke the national record in winning Silver in 400m is truly praiseworthy. After from these, she also won a Gold and Silver in 4x400 women’s relay and mixed relay

For India's sprint queen Dutee Chand, life has come a full circle. The Odisha sprinter who picked up second position in 100m and 200m events, was born in an extremely poor family in Chaka Gopalpur in Jajpur district.

Dutee had started to run at the age of four on dirt tracks along the local Brahmani river. The ‘failed gender test’ in 2015 when she was just a teenager had devastated her. The good, better, best: Never let it rest NEVER SAY NEVER Although she won the case, the 5'3'' athlete has defied all adversities from being short heighted, poor family background, failed gender test and yet won medals for the country due to her grueling speed rubber training schedule and single-minded determination and dedication.

India got an unexpected Gold in 800m from a jobless man from Haryana's Ujhana village in Jind district. Manjit Singh who was on a two-year contract with the ONGC before the Asiad, doesn't have a permanent job. With the Haryana government having snubbed his achievements time and again and failing to provide him a permanent job, Manjit’s exploits at the Asiad is truly extraordinary. Due to his rigorous training schedule, he wasn’t able to meet his newborn son who is four-months old. Now, it looks like all the hard work and sacrifices of Manjit have finally paid off.

Even Dharun Ayyasamy’s performance who broke the national record in claiming Silver in 400 m hurdles was no mean achievement. Ayyasamy also doesn’t have a job and hopes that his Silver will be enough to get him get one so that he can support his mother. He was just eight when he lost his father to tuberculosis and it’s his mother who brought him and sister up.

Hima Das, the country’s latest athletics queen, was born into a family of rice farmers in Kandhulimari village in Assam. The 18-year-old runner’s feat, who broke the national record in winning Silver in 400m is truly praiseworthy. After from these, she also won a Gold and Silver in 4x400 women’s relay and mixed relay.

She has already shown the traits of an extraordinary champion. Starting from a humble background, the youngster didn't have the necessary equipment and training but overcame all the odds

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