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ParaSport News interviews India’s first female Paralympic medalist, Deepa Malik

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This interview was conducted by Robert Myers, and is licensed CC-BY.

Deepa Malik completing in the Women’s shot put F53 final Image: Robert Myers.

 ParaSport-News yesterday interviewed Deepa Malik, India’s first female Paralympic medalist, who won the silver medal in the Women’s Shot Put F53 event finals, at the 2016 Summer Paralympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Malik lost the gold medal to Bahrain’s Fatema Nedham, who had the best throw 4.76 metres and setting a new Asian record in women’s shot put. There was an initial delay in the announcement of the results due to an unsuccessful challenge by Mexico’s Estla Salas.

Arriving into Rio, Malik had initial trouble due to KLM losing her luggage, it did not all arrive until three days later, clothes, opening ceremony outfit and training equipment including training belts.

In early August there was a possibly that Malik’s spot on the Indian team going Rio might be in jeopardy, with fellow female para-athlete Karam Jyoti challenging Malik’s selection and the Sport’s Authority of Indian’s selection process at the High Court of Delhi  The High Court ultimately ruled against the plaintiff.

Both of these event were occurring against the wider back drop of the Paralympic Committee of India being suspended by the International Paralympic Committee. Governance of Paralympics sport was taken over by the Sports Authority of India with the agreement from the International Paralympic Committee, with this arrangement allowed India to complete under its own flag at 2016 Summer Paralympics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRobert MyersWikinews waves Right.png Congratulations on your result.

Deepa Malik: Thank you very much

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png Even though you are currently waiting in terms of the end result of the protest.

DM: Absolutely, but I’m happy with my performance, I’m happy that I could improve and prove myself that there were a lot of questions back home on my selection and on my hard work. My single-minded focus that I had put into this journey of being an Paralympian. Well so anxious about the results.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png So how much did the court case and KLM losing your luggage impact on your preparations and your result today?

DM: Yes, but I’m happy that my husband was my coach here, I had huge moral support in terms of keeping my mind and everything in peace. Most of the equipment was available in the gym, we had to alter the training a bit like the throw days couldn’t happen, so instead exercised. No, I think that is what sport teaches you, you can never live on excuses, I never lived on excuses.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png You work around things

DM: Yes, that’s what we do, that’s what a sportsperson is suppose to do, rise again, fall and rise, run, I did exactly that.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png What message should other Indian women take away from your participation and result in Rio?

DM: This is going to be the first female medal that India would have ever won in Paralympics and as it is I’m working aggressively towards transforming this entire concept of empowerment for the women, especially the women in disabilities in my country. So I’m really happy this medal give my voice more value, more strength and I’ll be able to impact even more, though on the 9th of September the Prime Minister’s jury has rewarded me with the Women Transforming India, I’m so happy  that within three days of getting that award, I have added another medal to it and proved that yes this journey of ability beyond disability. No just disability, this is a universal message that if women put their minds to their dreams they can balance it, age, gender, disability is all state of mind, if you put your passion and hard work, you can get it and in the Indian scenario were they say disability is a challenge, women participation that are taboo, religiously, sociology, disabilities taken as a curse, dependability increases because of the lack of infrastructure, time to get rid of the excuses. We have to start erasing the excuses and believe own self and that is the message I’m carrying with all the activities that I do whether it is car rallying, motorbiking or swimming (inaudible), every record or every unique activity that I’ve undertaken and just below paralysis has been aimed at changing the stereotypical image of a women and a women in disability.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png Will you and your daughter both be trying to represent India at the 2020 Games in Tokyo?

DM: Going to talk about myself but my daughter though she’s Paralympian, yes, which was considered a huge taboo in my society that oh my god both the mother and the daughter both have a physical disability, what is going to happen with these two but we did good, and she is working as a youth council representative in the Commonwealth countries, for the Paralympics specially and her work though her foundation called Wheeling Happiness has earned her the young leader award from the Queen of England, so her focus is now shifting to more on community service and powering, not just herself. She is leaving on the first of October to Loughborough to do her PhD doctorate programme in disability sports psychology, I’m very sure Loughborough going to give her a huge amount of sports (inaudible) but how much time she going to decide to devote to sports and studies is her decision in entirely, that her dream, her journey.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png How helpful was the sports authority of India in preparing and supporting your Rio ambitions?

DM: I think 100 per cent, because the biggest challenge we have at home is a customised training or the infrastructure wasn’t there, so we were given the ability and the funds to train the way we wanted to trained and the funds were huge which were given to us, out accommodation, food, diet, physical therapist, psychologist, trainer, gym, everything was paid for and customised, you want it and they give it. So this was financially this time, because every expenses was taken care of, my husband could also take a sabbatical from his job and join my journey, having him twenty-four seven and coaching me because himself is an athlete and have the best diet and counselling. I think it’s worked wonders, so give shout out and huge applaud.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRMWikinews waves Right.png How important was for you to have a career in Rio?

DM: Yes, again we have to really appreciate the sports authority of India and also Paralympic Committee of India, which is going to start the function post Rio in India they were very very quick, very very adamant in giving the wheelchair people escorts and I need help twenty four seven, I’m just below paralysed so it was really huge, emotionally, mentally, psychically training wise, every way I think the situation was prefect.

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Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2521 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.

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