Indian athlete Swapna Barman, who finished 26th in women's heptathlon at the World Championships here, has claimed that she was on the verge of pulling out of the competition owing to a recurring back pain.
Barman said that the back pain, which she first had in late 2014 after taking part in the Incheon Asian Games, returned to trouble her after she ran the first event - 100m hurdles - on Friday.
She, however, continued with the remaining six events to finish 26th -- just a place above the bottom -- with a total of 5431 points.
The seven heptathlon events were spread over two days and ended on Saturday.
"I had this back pain after the 2014 Asian Games and the whole of 2015 and 2016, I could not do much training and competition. I began proper training in February 2017 only and then I won the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar to qualify for the World Championships," Barman told PTI.
"The back pain returned and after running the 100m hurdles here (on Saturday), I was feeling real pain. I called up my coach at home and told him I want to pull out of competitions.
"He told me to continue somehow. He said it will be a waste of an opportunity if I pulled out and people will not talk about me very kindly. He said if I can continue somehow I should do that. So I continued and completed the remaining six events," said the 20-year-old from West Bengal.
Barman won the heptathlon gold in the Asian Championships last month with an aggregate of 5942 points, but in the World Championships, nothing went right for her as her performance in all the seven events dipped.
Her best event was the high jump and in Bhubaneswar, she did even better than the individual gold winner. She cleared an height of 1.86m in Bhubaneswar while the individual gold winner (Nadiya Dusanova of Uzbekistan) could only clear 1.84m.
"Yeah, high jump is my strongest event. I did 1.86m in Bhubanswar but here I could not lift myself due to the back pain and could clear only 1.71m. That is a huge 15cm difference and I lost nearly 200 points in high jump," she said.
"Had I competed without this back pain I would have done my personal best and could have touched nearly 6000 aggregate points and I would have been really happy," she added.
In shot put, Barman cleared a distance of 10,81m, ran 200m race in 26.45 secs, did a 5.53m in long jump, threw the javelin to a distance of 43.49m and then clocked 2 minute 20.17 seconds in 800m race. Each of her results in seven events was worse than her performance in the Asian Athletics.
Asked if she had back pain during the Asian Championships, Barman said, "I sometimes felt slight pain but I did not give much thought to it as it (pain) was bothering me and I was competing in home conditions."
Barman, who has a peculiar six toes in each of her foot, said that her realistic target now would be to win a gold in the 2018 Asian Games.
"I will consult a doctor after returning home. I think I need a long rest. I am not taking part in the National Open Championships (in September). I hope to take part in the 2018 Commonwealth Games but my target will be to win a gold in the 2018 Asian Games," she said.
Barman's selection in the Indian squad was also a matter of debate as 5942 was not that big a score when it came to the level of World Championships. The athlete who aggregated 6001 in the World Championships, took the 21st place.
But Barman cleared the air about her participation in the National Inter-State Championships in Guntur last month, which the AFI had made it mandatory for selection in the World Championships.
"Yes, I took part in Guntur. The federation officials said I will have to take pert in at least two events (out of seven). I took part in long jump and 100m hurdles and I did reasonably well in the two events.
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