Hangzhou, October 2
India's Swapna Barman on Monday sparked a controversy with sensational allegations that she lost out on a bronze medal in the women's heptathlon competition of the ongoing Asian Games to a "transgender" athlete.
Swapna, who had won the gold medal in the 2018 edition of the Asian Games in Jakarta, alleged that compatriot Nandini Agasara was ineligible to compete in the women's event as she is a "transgender" but later deleted her post from social media.
Nandini won the bronze medal in women's heptathlon here, while Swapna failed to defend her crown, settling for the fourth position on Sunday.
"I have lost my Asian Games bronze medal to a transgender woman at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China. I want my medal back as it is against the rules of athletics. Help me and support me please," Barman wrote on 'X', formerly twitter.
A few hours later, she deleted the tweet even as the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) chief Adille Sumariwalla refused to make an official comment.
It is expected that the AFI will resolve the issue once the Games are over.
Nandini aggregated a total of 5712 points, a personal best. She topped the final event of the heptathlon, the 800m race, to ensure a spot on the podium, ahead of Barman.
Besides the 800m event, Nandini also won the 200m race, that earned her 936 points.
The medal in Hangzhou is the 20-year-old Nandini's first international achievement. She represented India in 100m hurdles in the World U20 Championships in 2021 and 2022 where she finished seventh in the final.
The Asian Games here was also her first senior international tournament.
Sources said the athlete had since returned home due to some family reasons and repeated attempts to contact her over phone failed.
Nandini started athletics in 2019 and was doing combined events at the U20 level. But since then, she has shifted to 100m, 100m hurdles and long jump in national junior championships.
The athlete, whose father works at a tea shop in Hyderabad and her mother is a homemaker, began competing at the senior level in 2021. She won silver medals in the Federation Cup and National Inter-State Senior Championships.
She continued competing in individual events in 2022, winning the 100m hurdles bronze in the National Open Championships. This year, she again shifted to heptathlon and finished second behind Swapna in the National Inter-State Championships in June.
As per the rules of World Athletics, which came into effect on March 31, every single athlete who has gone through what has been defined as 'male puberty' by World Athletics is barred from competing in female world-ranking events.
Swapna, who managed 5708 points, was the defending champions in the event here having won a gold at the Jakarta Games five years ago.
China's Ninali Zheng won the gold medal in women's heptathlon event after collecting a total of 6149 points. Ekaterina Voronina of Uzbekistan took the silver with 6056 points.
The toast of the nation in the last edition, Swapna's one last shot at glory at the Games turned into a nightmare as she struggled with injuries to virtually go out of medal reckoning after the javelin throw event.
The defending champion, who boasts of a personal best of 52.55m in javelin throw, managed a throw of just 45.13 in the penultimate event of the gruelling competition.
Javelin throw was one of the two events Swapna had won in 2018 en route to becoming the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold.
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