Deepa Malik: 'Happy to see more inclusiveness for Para Sport'

"The para sport and the achievements of persons with disability is applauded and is seen with acceptance and has inclusive in nature nowadays. Let’s celebrate the change of attitude towards para-sport," said the Rio Paralympic silver medalist in shot put F-53 event.

Cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, shooter Abhinav Bindra and paralympians Deepa Malik and Devendra Jhajharia during the grand opening of Fanatic Sports Museum in Kolkata on Sunday.   -  PTI

First Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympic Games, Deepa Malik today said the country has ushered in a new era for the sport for differently-abled athletes as they’re seen with more inclusiveness these days.

“It’s a huge declaration for the new era that has begun in the country. Now the nation is absolute ready to accept of para sport,” the recipient of this year’s Padma Shri told PTI after inaugurating ‘Fannatic Sports Museum — The Boria Mazumdar Collection at Ecospace Business Park here today.

“The para sport and the achievements of persons with disability is applauded and is seen with acceptance and has inclusive in nature nowadays. Let’s celebrate the change of attitude towards para-sport,” the Rio Paralympic silver medalist in shot put F-53 event added.

Hailing the change of attitude, she said: “These kind of recognition not just celebration of our medals, but it has got a larger meaning.”

The change of attitude and the limelight means that Deepa appointment diary is packed nowadays, something she finds a little taxing to balance.

“Yes, it becomes a bit challenging but I take it upon me as a messenger of para-sport,” the Delhi based athlete who flew in from Chennai after attending a Republic Day function added.

Deepa also showered praise on former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who inadvertently addressed her as “Sakshi” the only other Malik in Rio, who did the country proud by becoming the first woman wrestler to win a medal.

“I understand he’s busy man and keeps meeting hundreds of people everyday so it’s natural. He’s a true gentleman and I remember how concerned she was about me and even moved my wheelchair during a FICCI AGM in Delhi,” she recollected.

The 46-year-old however is not calling it quits and keeping her fingers crossed for Tokyo Paralympics 2020.

“Definitely not. I will hit practice soon after a tumor management treatment. I will see how it goes in the World Championships of 2019 and hopefully Tokyo.”

All praise about the museum, Deepa further appealed people to take out their time and pay a visit.

“It took me a decade to become a Paralympic medalist. There’s a lot of blood and sweat that goes behind in earning a medal. You will become aware of this only after visiting such a museum.

“We always crib about not getting an Olympic medal but it’s all about nurturing a sports culture and such a place motivate and inspire you.”

A passout of 1987 batch Kendriya Vidyalaya Fort William, Deepa also felt nostalgic after landing in the city.

“My real roots of sport belonged to this place. I became a school captain here and now after being here it reconnects me to Kolkata. I feel fortunate to inaugurate it. Seeing para sport to put at par with sporting legends of India and the world has definitely raised the bar of para sport, it’s a huge honour and definitely a step forward. Thank you for this moment,” she signed off.