JAKARTA, Aug 29: Heptathlete Swapna Barman added a dash of heroism to her historic gold medal, triple jumper Arpinder Singh personified the predictability that comes with a favourite tag, while sprinter Dutee Chand continued to rediscover herself as track-and-field remained India�s happy hunting ground at the 18th Asian Games here.
Competing with a plastered face owing to a teeth injury, described as a case of infection, the battle-hardened Swapna topped the overall standings to grab her maiden Asiad gold.
The daughter of a rickshaw puller who has been bed-ridden by stroke since 2013, Swapna logged 6026 points from the seven events competed over two days. She won the high jump (1003 points) and javelin throw (872 points) events and finished second-best in shot put (707 points) and long jump (865 points).
Her weakest events were 100m (981 points, 5th position) and 200m in which she finished seventh with 790 points. But the tremendous overall effort was enough to make her the first heptathlete to notch up a gold at the continental showpiece.
Another history-maker was Arpinder, becoming the first triple jumper in 48 years to fetch a gold after Mohinder Singh Gill (1970).
The athlete from Punjab bossed the finals, making the gold-winning jump of 16.77m in just his third attempt and was never really threatened by the rest of the field.
Then there was Dutee, continuing to enjoy her return to top flight athletics, by adding a 200m silver to the one she clinched in the 100m event.
Dutee was not allowed to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games as she was embroiled in a hyperandrogenism case, which eventually went in her favour at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
Today, she crossed the line in 23.20 which was 0.149 slower than the gold medal winner from Bahrain, Edidiong Odiong (22.96). The bronze went to China�s Wei Yongli (23.27).
�I have faced a lot since 2014. No one has gone through such a bad phase. I am glad that I could win two medal for the country. There is always this fear that it might come back. But more the fear, the harder I train,� the diminutive runner said after finding her silver lining.
�It feels great to win two silver and that too with my personal best time in the semifinals. I was little tight today because I had given my all in the semifinal. I could not give my best (in the final race) but I have trained hard,� Dutee said.
She joined her illustrious compatriots such as PT Usha in the list of athletes who have won more than one medal at the Asian Games.
The legendary Usha had swept four gold medals at the 1986 Seoul Games, winning 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay. Jyotirmoyee Sikdar (800m and 1500m) had also won two medals at the at 1998 Bangkok Games. Sunita Rani (1500m, 5000m) also returned with two medals from the 2002 Busan Games.
Some Asian countries have �imported� African athletes to improve their profile in athletics. Asked to comment on this issue, Dutee said she does not think about such matters.
�Anyone can come and compete, we can�t stop anyone. Irrespective of the field, I just try to give my best and fight to my potential. I pushed really hard towards the end but the other girls had long strides, so she (gold winner) edged me out.�
The Odisha government had announced a cash award of Rs 1.5 crore for Dutee, acknowledging her silver medal winning performance in the 100m dash.
Dutee said she will use the money to get better.
�There will definitely be celebration. The occasion demands celebration. Also, the Odisha government has announced big prize money for me. I already have a house, so I will use this money for my training,� she said.
She also acknowledged the contribution of various people who have helped her in tough times.
�I was allowed to train at Pullela Gopichand Academy (in Hyderabad) during that time. I want to thank my legal team also which helped me winning the case,� she signed off. � PTI