Haryana’s love for a disabled woman is really big deal: Deepa Malik

India’s silver medallist gets rousing reception on return to home

Gulf News

New Delhi: Cherishing the reception she got after her historic silver medal at the Rio Paralympics, Deepa Malik on Saturday said that Haryana’s positive response is a “really big deal” for a disabled woman.

The 45-year-old made history by bagging the silver medal in women’s F53 shot put event in the Rio Paralympics, throwing a personal best distance of 4.61 metres.

Malik, who returned home to a rousing reception, is overwhelmed with the love she received from her native place in the north Indian state of Haryana with the entire Khap coming out to receive her. A Khap is a community organisation that represents a clan or a group of related clans.

“They say women are not encouraged to take up sports in Haryana. I don’t know about that. When I came back from Rio, 200 people from my village, the entire Khap came to receive me. They gifted me a gada [mace] for making the village proud,” Malik said at NDTV’s Youth For Change Conclave on Saturday evening.

“The honour is usually reserved for men. For them to give it to me, a disabled woman, is a really big deal,” she added.

A mother of two and wife of an Army officer, Malik, who was conferred the Arjuna Award, is a paraplegic — paralysed from the waist down.

A spinal tumour left her paralysed in 1999. The tumour had to be operated and 31 surgeries were conducted on her that healed after 183 stitches between her waist and legs. After six years of being in the wheelchair, she turned to para-sports.

SPORT PICTURE OF THE DAY: Monday, September 19

Fireworks over the arena during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 19, 2016. AFP