‘This award is extremely special’

Deepa Malik was named the Parathlete Sportswoman of the Year at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

“If I get the right support, I can convert it into a medal,” says Deepa Malik.   -  Kamal Narang

"This award is extremely special because I have had a mixed bag this year. I was sitting under a cesspool of emotions. We learned in January last year that there was no shot put in my category. In the London Paralympics, I had javelin for my category of disability. In 2016, I had shot put in my disability category and for 2020 I have discus throw.

“So I had to learn a new sport (discus throw). I lost my father to cancer in the month of April when I had my trials for the Asian Games. So, you know, to deal with all this and then convert into a medal in a new sport in a very short span of time, is quite something. I did not allow any age or personal issues to come in between all that. I played like a true sportsperson. I had to show extraordinary courage and determination and I’m very happy that I could do that. It means a lot that Sportstar has recognised these efforts,” Deepa Malik, who was named the Parathlete Sportswoman of the Year at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

She became the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics medal when she clinched a silver in the shot put at the Rio Games. The 48-year-old Arjuna and Padma Shri awardee continues to impress two years after that feat.

The paraplegic sportswoman added two Asian Games bronze medals (javelin throw, discus throw) to go with the two gold medals she won at the the Indian International Open championship in 2018. The 48-year-old also created history by becoming the first Indian female athlete to win medals in three consecutive Asian Games (2010, 2014, 2018) and created a new Asian record in javelin throw (F53 category). She won a gold medal in the F53/54 javelin event at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai this year to be ranked No. 1 in the world.

Deepa won a bronze in discus throw in Jakarta after just few months of training, but still the effort failed to earn her a direct TOPS funding. “It’s a new event. And my ranking is not that high. But I know if I get the right support, I can convert it into a medal. I would have been really happy had they kept faith on me because I need every kind of assistance to reach that level, especially with my disability,” she said, forcing her to have a rethink on her career. But Deepa hopes to continue defying odds and has set her sights on the 2019 World Championships.