RIO DE JANERIO: Deepa Malik, a 45-year-old wheelchair-bound, from Gurgaon made history when she became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics. Her throw of 4.61m won her a silver in the shot put F-53 event.
Deepa is a paraplegic, paralysed from waist down. She is a mother of two and wife of an Army officer. Life took a twist when a spinal tumour made walking impossible for her 17 years ago. The spinal tumour had to be operated and 31 surgeries were conducted on Deepa which was healed after 183 stitches between her waist and legs.
Watch her winning throw:
Deepa’s silver extended India’s tally at the Rio Paralympics to three medals. Deepa will receive a cash award of Rs. 4 crore under Haryana Sports Scheme for her feat.
“I want to use this medal to support women with disabilities in India. This journey has been wonderful for me and my entire family. I am proud to be the oldest athlete in the team and win a medal,” Deepa was quoted by news agency IANS as saying immediately after she won the medal.
“I don’t know whether she was confident of winning a medal but she gave the best performance of her life,” daughter Devika told TOI after the news came in, adding, “I haven’t spoken to her after the event, but we had seen her work hard for the Games and we are happy that that hard work resulted in a medal.”
Besides shot put, Deepa has participated in javelin throw, swimming and has also been a motivational speaker.
She has also won medals in swimming at international competitions. She holds the Asian record in javelin throw, and also has World Championships silver medals in shot put and discus in 2011.
Deepa’s silver is India’s third medal of the Games after Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati won gold and bronze respectively in men’s high jump.