India’s heptathlon athlete, Swapna Barman, finished in 4th place at the Asian Games 2023, just 4 points behind fellow Indian Nandini Agasara. Nandini won the bronze medal in the women’s heptathlon event, while Swapna went home without a medal. However, Swapna stirred controversy on social media by claiming that Nandini is a transgender athlete who shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the event. She later deleted her post.
Nandini scored a personal best of 5712 points to secure her place on the podium. She excelled in the 800m race, the final event of the heptathlon, surpassing Barman. With the 936 points she earned from the 200m race, Nandini secured the bronze medal.
Swapna, who won the gold medal in the same event in 2018, expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome on the track. She stated on X (formerly Twitter), “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 our Athletics. Help me and support me please.”
According to World Athletics regulations implemented on March 31, any athlete who has undergone “male puberty” is prohibited from competing in female ranking events.
Swapna told The Bridge, “Transgender athletes with testosterone levels above 2.5 cannot compete in events over 200 meters. No girl can improve so quickly in a heptathlon. I have trained for 13 years, and it is impossible for someone to train for just four months and reach this level.”
The India vs India battle at the Hangzhou Asian Games was met with mixed reactions from athletics fans on Twitter. Some criticized Swapna’s complaint, while others pointed out that her own performance fell short.
After winning the bronze medal, Nandini expressed gratitude to the Athletics Federation of India and the government of India for their support. She credited their assistance for her success and thanked everyone who supported her.
While Swapna seeks assistance from authorities, it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold, particularly due to the fact that the bronze medalist is also an Indian athlete.