Athletics

12-toe Barman wins heptathlon

Being born with six toes on each foot didn't stop India's Swapna Barman winning the Asian Games heptathlon - but she immediately issued a plea for shoes that actually fit.

Barman led going into the last of the seven heptathlon disciplines, the 800 metres - her weakest event - and managed to cling on despite finishing fourth as her closest rival came in last.

The Indian athlete, who still has all dozen of her toes, said every step of the race had been excruciating as she pushed through the pain barrier in her ill-fitting footwear.

"Normal shoes don't work for me. There is lot of pain when I wear any shoe, spikes or anything," she said after clinching gold late on Wednesday.

"I hope they make special shoes for me because I have a lot of pain. Even warm-up shoes hurt, so forget about spikes."

Barman, 21, shot to attention last year by taking gold at the Asian Championships in India.

She then suffered a string of ankle and back injuries that kept her out for a year, but came back in time to finish second in India's Asian Games qualifiers.

In Jakarta, she won the high jump, shot put and javelin to record a personal best score of 6,026.

From a poor family in the east Indian town of Jalpaiguri, she said she has never considered surgery to remove the additional digits, blaming the extra width of her feet for the pain.

She also had to contend with acute toothache.

"I used to eat a lot of chocolates, so I have a lot of pain in one of my teeth," she said, wearing heavy strapping on her chin.

"First day I thought I will not be able to do it because there was so much pain. But I had to do it because of all these days of hard work." - AFP .

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