Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

Parents of athlete accused of being transgender slam jealous rival

Our daughter is 100% WOMAN: Parents of Indian athlete accused of being transgender slam claims by jealous rival who lost her podium spot

  • Exclusive: Nandini Agasara, 20, took home a bronze medal at the Asian Games
  • Her victory was soured by social media allegations that she was transgender 
  • Her parents claim Nandini is 100% woman and called the rumours ‘Rubbish’ 

The parents of a female athlete accused of being transgender have insisted that she is ‘100% woman’ – and say claims that she is not are driven by a jealous rival.

Nandini Agasara, a 20-year-old pro athlete, took home a bronze medal for India at this year’s Asian Games in the women’s heptathlon earlier this week after scoring 5712 points in the gruelling event, kick starting huge controversy over her gender.

Her victory was soured by a rival, 26-year-old Swapna Barman who also competed for India, but narrowly missed out on the podium position while seemingly accusing Nandini of being transgender in a now-deleted social media post.

Barman, who took gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, said in her post to X, formerly Twitter: ‘I have lost my Asian Games bronze medal to transgender women at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China.’

A female athlete who took home a Bronze medal for India in this year’s Asian Games was seemingly accused by her rival of being transgender in a now-deleted social media post

Nandini Agasara (pictured) from India said she was not ‘focusing too much’ on the allegation while her parents claim she is ‘100% woman’

Nandini’s parents have slammed the allegations and said that anyone who is questioning her gender is ‘speaking rubbish’ (Nandini, pictured with her parents)

The allegation has brought into focus once again the issue of transgender athletes with Nandini’s proud parents slamming it as a ‘lie’ while maintaining that she was born female and has remained so throughout her life.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, her father Yallappa, 40 said: ‘I don’t understand why anybody would say that Nandini is transgender. She is 100% a woman, and that’s the end of the matter. Anybody questioning her gender is speaking rubbish.

‘We are very proud of her sporting achievements and this allegation is just about her rivals being jealous. We are only focusing on the positive and are celebrating her medal. We are very proud of our girl and what she’s achieved.’

Nandini’s mother, Ayyamma, 35 fumed: ‘We don’t have time for such nonsense about Nandini being transgender. I don’t understand why people would say such things. It’s a huge thing what she’s achieved, and we are just focused on that.

‘It’s very sad that people are saying such things because life for all of us has been a struggle and this is getting overlooked by this allegation.’

Mr Agasara claimed that Nandini, 20 had inherited her muscular physique from him and was also physically strong because of the family’s poor background, resulting in her having to work since she was a child to help them make ends meet.

He runs a tea shop in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, earning around £120 per month. His wife works as a house maid, earning around £300 per month.

Nandini’s father claimed that the 20-year-old had inherited her muscular physique from him and said she was physically strong because of the family’s poor background 

The couple live in a small, one-bedroom house in a poor part of the city with Nandini and her two brothers.

Mr Agasara said: ‘We are from a very poor family and life has always been very hard for us. Since she was a child, Nandini has been working alongside her mother as a maid, lifting heavy things, washing clothes and doing a lot of physical work. It’s made her big and strong.

‘I’m also quite muscular and big and she’s inherited those genes from me. But she’s still a woman, she looks like a woman and the world knows that she’s a woman.’

Nandini returned from China to her home in Hyderabad on Tuesday, where a celebration party was held in her honour with friends and family placing garlands around her and presenting the athlete with a specially baked cake.

She told MailOnline: ‘You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. You shouldn’t judge a person by their looks.

‘I played with dolls when I was a girl and I wear saris and other traditional Indian female clothes when I attend weddings or religious occasions. I am tall and strong compared to many women but that’s because of all the physical work that I’ve had to do throughout my life to help my family.

‘When poor people achieve anything then there is always a lot of jealousy, and somebody will try to pull you down. That’s what this allegation is all about but I’m not focusing on it too much.’

Nandini’s mother said the rumours have clouded Nandini’s sport achievements, and said they are focusing on celebrating her

Nandini claimed her muscular physique doesn’t make her ‘less of a woman’ and said you should not judge people based on their appearance

Recalling her impoverished childhood, Nandini cried: ‘I used to go to bed on an empty stomach and we could go two or three days without eating. People don’t realise the struggles that our whole family has gone through.

‘I come from nothing and to go and win a medal at a major international sporting event is no small matter.’

Nandini revealed that even as she trained as a pro athlete, she was still working alongside her mother as a maid and that this will continue despite her shooting to national prominence in India following her podium finish.

She added: ‘My mother and father have been working since they were aged 10 and I’ve inherited my hard work ethic from them. Just because I’ve got a bronze medal now, that won’t change.

‘When you’ve lived my life and had to do a lot of physical work because of poverty, it makes you big and strong. It doesn’t mean you’re any less a woman.’

Despite the furore, Asagara’s win was celebrated by major figures, including India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wrote on X, formerly Twitter: ‘India celebrates the phenomenal Bronze Medal by Nandini Agasara in Women’s Heptathlon 800m event.

‘She is an absolute champion, personifying sporting spirit and excellence. Congrats to her and all the best for the endeavours ahead.’

Nandini came into athletics relatively late after being spotted by a local sports coach at the age of 14 and was then given a scholarship to a school where she was able to combine academic studies with training.

The bronze at the Asian Games is her second international medal, having taken home a silver medal in the 100m hurdles at the World Athletics U20 Championships in 2022.

Nandini’s father claimed that the 20-year-old had inherited her muscular physique from him and said she was physically strong because of the family’s poor background

Nandini told MailOnline that she is tall and strong because of the hard work she has had to endure to help her family over the years 

She has also won several national medals in India, taking home a two silver medals in two years, once at the 100m hurdles at India’s National Open Athletics Championships in 2022 and at the National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in 2021.

The furious row comes in the midst of a global backlash against transgender athletes, as governing bodies across the world ban them from competing as the genders they identify with.

Earlier this year, transgender women were banned from competing in the female category at international athletics events.

The decision was made by World Athletics in order to ‘prioritise fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion’.

On the new transgender participation rules, Sebastian Coe, the governing body’s president, said: ‘The World Athletics council has taken the decisive action to protect the female category in our sport.

‘The decision that the council made is a primarily principle-based decision and that is the overarching need to protect the female category. This is what our sport is here to do.’

Athletics wasn’t the only sport to ban transgender women from competing in female events, as in July, cycling’s world governing body banned them from competing in international events.

The old policy under the Union Cycliste Internationale allowed trans women to compete in female races if they had testosterone levels of less than 2.5 nanomoles per litre.

But the policy came under fire after American cyclist Austin Killips won the Tour of the Gila five whole minutes ahead of the runner up.

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