Prior to the start of the Asian Games, not many would have heard of Swapna Barman. But on August 29, 2018, Swapna scripted history by winning India's first ever Gold medal in Heptathlon at the continental event.
The 21-year-old posted a total score of 6026, which helped her claim top place ahead of China's Wang Qingling, whose score of 5954 earned her Silver medal, and Japan's Yuki Yamasaki, whose score of 5873 won her Bronze medal.
Swapna's journey from Jalpaiguri to Jakarta has been nothing short of a dream. Winning through the pain has always been part of the process for the youngster, who was born with 12 toes on her feet.
Her climb to the Asian Games gold is a result of sheer hard work and determination, as she comes from family who is struggling to make ends meet. Her father was a rickshaw-driver, before been bedridden since suffering two strokes in 2013, while her mother works at a tea-plantation in West Bengal. Even though her family struggled to fund the needs of her training, she did not let any of these setbacks pull her down.
Dealing with these obstacles, Swapna Barman even thought of quitting the sport at one stage. But, if it wasn't for Rahul Dravid, we would not have been able to witness one of India's sporting superstars in the making.
It is believed, that after hearing the plight of the immensely talented heptathlon athlete, the former Indian cricketer decided to lend his support for Swapna. Through his Athlete Mentorship Programme, Rahul Dravid helped Swapna Barman realise her dream of achieving India's first heptathlon Asian Games gold medal.
Along with Swapna, 19 other athletes participating at the 2018 Asian Games have received financial backing and guidance from the 'Wall of Cricket' himself through the programme. The programme in partnership with Go Sports, aims to help athletes living in the rural areas cope with the rigors of competing at the highest levels.
The likes of gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and HS Pronoy have been groomed under Rahul Dravid's tutelage.