MUMBAI: Para sports in India has been taking rapid strides in the last few years and Deepa Malik, India’s first-ever woman Paralympic medallist, is confident that the country will win medals in double digits in the Tokyo Paralympics next year. She asserted her resolve on the topic on paddler Mudit Dani’s live online chat show, ‘In The Sportlight’.
Having been elected as the President of the Paralympic Committee of India recently, the Rio Paralympics silver medalist has been tirelessly working towards incorporating more sports science specialists for better results and educating the athletes on it. And this will only lead to a medal boom, Malik believes.
“At Rio we had doubled the medals, we were a squad of 19. We had two gold, a silver and a bronze. In 2018 (Asian Para Games), we were a squad of 194 and won 72 medals. It has already set the benchmark. The sensational thing about Tokyo next year will be India bagging Paralympics medals in double digits,” said Malik.
The online live Instagram chat series ‘In The Sportlight’, which was started by the 21-year-old Dani with the sole purpose of delivering inspiration to other young athletes and fans, has seen champion athletes like Abhinav Bindra, Leander Paes, PV Sindhu, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and also the Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju taking part.
The inspirational 49-year-old Malik, who also has a silver medal from the IPC World Championships, has never let her disability come in the way of her passion. In 1999 when she was told that a surgery for removing a spinal tumor could lead to paralysis below the chest, the injured soldiers of the Kargil War and their hardships inspired her to come through her life’s biggest crisis.
“The hospital to which I was taken for my surgery was full of war casualties. I think that immediately became my inspiration. If these healthy young men were losing a limb in their line of duty then I have no reason to crib just because I have a disease,” she recounted.
Mentioning her inclusion in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), Malik described how it benefited her and helped her hire different experts, the efforts of which reaped rich dividends at Rio. While she got the silver for a distance of 4.61m in shot put, Tokyo did not give her the same scope with there being no javelin or shot put, which spurred on her decision to take on an administrative role.