Deepa Malik: The Strong and Fierce

Blog by: Raj Kishan

“She is free in her wildness; she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.” These words are by Roman Payne, written whilst describing a strong woman, are in fact a perfect description for our pride, Deepa Malik.

India’s Rio Paralympics silver-medalist Deepa Malik can juggle many roles in life, a real all-rounder; A daughter, wife, mother, athlete and biker! Malik, now 47, she is the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympics Games and won a Silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the shot put.

At the age of only six, Malik was first diagnosed with tumours in the spinal column that left her with no sensation in the lower half of her body. However, she recovered after surgeries and became an avid sportswoman, but only until her mid-twenties. In her late 20s, she felt weakness in the lower limbs. “Doctors said the tumour is back with a vengeance. They gave me 10 days to celebrate walking, after which they said they would scoop out the tumour,” Malik recalled in an interview.

“People write me off because I’m an upper middle class colonel’s wife, because my story isn’t one of poverty and because I’m in my 40s,” she said, and in many ways, Malik’s life has been harder because people saw her disability in a gendered fashion — neighbours and relatives thought she was ignoring her family duties, and regularly advised her husband to remarry. The naysayers were riding their horses and discouraging and demoralizing her.

But being the fight she is, she fought back! That wasn’t surprising; after all she comes from a family of brave men. She is the wife of a veteran cavalier Colonel Bikram Singh and daughter of a veteran Infantry Colonel BK Nagpal.

She has won accolades for her participation in various adventure sports. She is associated with Himalayan Motorsports Association (H.M.A.) and Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (F.M.S.C.I.). She has taken part in Raid De Himalaya, which is an 8-day, 1700-km drive in sub-zero temperatures which included a climb to 18000 feet. This journey covers many difficult paths including remote Himalayas, Leh, Shimla and Jammu.

She is both javelin thrower and a shot up player. Collectively she has won 51 Gold, 5 Silver and 2 Bronze medals at national level. She has 18 International medals; which includes; silver at Rio Paralympics in 2016, IPC Oceania Asian Championship, 1 Gold (Jav), 1 Silver (Shotput) in 2016, Incheon Asian Para Games 2014 – Silver medal in women’s 53–54 Javelin with a new Asian Record.

She has a long list of nation and state awards. Some of the major wards are:

National and state awards

  • President Role Model Award (2014)
  • Arjuna Award (2012)
  • Maharashtra Chhatrapati Award (sports) (2009–10)
  • Haryana Karambhoomi Award (2008)
  • Swawlamban Puruskar Maharashtra (2006)
  • Padmashri Award (2017)

For the silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics Government of Haryana rewared her with ₹4 crore and ₹50 lakh from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

She is a member of the working group in the formulation 12th five- year plan (2012–2017) on Sports and Physical Education as nominated by the Planning Commission HRD Division on behalf of the Sports Ministry.

She is a true hero and a role model. So learn from her. Let’s end with her very inspiring and motivating words, “Keep thoughts positive, exercise your brain with positivity, look for solutions…life is a festival you can and must celebrate every day.”