Having won a gold medal for India at the 2018 Asian Games in heptathlon with six-toed feet shoved uncomfortably in regular shoes and tape on her cheek to control pain from a tooth infection, it seems Swapna Barman will have some help from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to 'put the smile back on her face'.
Moved by Barman's plight " who seemed to wince with pain each time she landed in the high jump event " doctors at AIIMS have offered to help the heptathlete out, according to a report in The Hindu.
The report added that the doctors had sent a heartfelt message to the athlete. "We invite the nation's pride " Asian Games gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman " to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for diagnosis and treatment of her tooth infection and lower back pain. You brought smiles to the faces of a million Indians, it is now our turn to make you smile without pain and suffering. The 2,000 resident doctors at AIIMS will work hard to ensure that you have the best possible treatment available."
According to Barman's long-time coach Subhas Sarkar, the 21-year-old was also soldiering through a back injury when she won gold at Jakarta.
"A surgery cannot be ruled out. She won't compete in any major events in 2019. She has to fully recover first," Sarkar had said on the sidelines of Sports Authority of India (SAI) felicitation event in Kolkata last week.
Reportedly, Swapna has been struggling with her back injury since 2014. She sustained the injury during the Incheon Asian Games. The back injury almost forced Barman to pull out of the 2017 Asian Championships last year.
While Barman is yet to respond to the offer from AIIMS, it would be particularly helpful for the 21-year-old given her financial situation.
One of four children, her father Panchanan used to be a rickshaw puller until a stroke a few years ago forced him to be bed-ridden. Her mother Basana Devi works as a maid and plucks leaves in the tea garden.
Earlier, it was expected that Barman would consult with Mumbai-based Dr Anant Joshi about healing her injuries.