RIO DE JANERIO: Deepa Malik, a 45-year-old wheelchair-bound adrenaline junkie, 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.
She is a wife of an Army Officer, and mother of two.
“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.
Deepa’s silver extended India’s tally at the Rio Paralympics to three medals. Bahrain’s Fatema Nedham won the gold medal with a best throw of 4.76m, while Dimitra Korokida of Greece bagged bronze with a throw of 4.28m.
The silver medal will be the icing on the cake for Deepa, also the first Indian woman to participate at the Paralympics, but it comes on the back of a dazzling array of swimming and javelin efforts for the paraplegic, who has been paralysed from the waist down after a spinal tumour in 1999, followed by three surgeries and 183 stitches, made walking impossible.
She has been a former Rajasthan state women’s cricketer, Deepa’s first love remains biking.
She became the first paraplegic woman in the world to ride a quad bike across nine high-altitude passesin nine days on Ladakh’s motorable roads.
Deepa Malik once claimed she had gotten married at 20 because her husband supported her love for bikes. Despite her current condition, .
In 2013, she participated in a Chennai-Delhi (3,278km) panIndia drive by paraplegic women.
That’s not all.
In 2008, Deepa created another record when she swam the Yamuna for a kilometre upstream.Four years later,
She was awarded the Arjuna Award for her swimming performances. In all, she has 17 international medals, 58 National gold medals, she holds the Asian record in javelin throw and also has World Championship silver medals in shot put and discus in 2011.
Today , Deepa is a vocal spokesperson for paraplegic rights in the country with her Ability Beyond Disability movement.