‘My medal has given me the power to speak’
Deepa Malik shot to fame as the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics shot put event.
As the world celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities today, the champion says that winning the medal has altered her life to a great extent. “Life has changed a lot. I feel blessed to be a medium of change through this medal. It’s not just mine; it is the first Indian woman’s medal. It makes me happy, but also makes me think that it took 70 years for a woman in independent India to win a medal. I hope it doesn’t take another 70 to win the next,” says 46-year-old Malik.
She adds that maybe now people will take what she has to say, seriously. “The medal has given me the power to speak with conviction about things that need to be addressed. I was already doing a lot of advocacy, and now it makes people believe more in what I had said.”
But given the sad state of affairs of parasports and the taboo around disability in India, how challenging was her journey? “Disability has given me direction. I learned to learn, because it makes you a winner,” says Malik. “I learned to deal emotionally and psychologically with the disability. Then I saw the larger picture as an educated citizen — how there are taboos and norms about this disability. I set out to break stereotypes around the disability, especially for women in a wheelchair.”