Mumbai : Para sports in India have been taken rapid strides in the last few years and Deepa Malik, India’s first ever woman Paralympic medallist, is confident that the country will win medals in double digits at the Tokyo Paralympics next year.She said this on paddler Mudit Dani’s live online chat show, ‘In The Sportlight’.Having been elected as the President of the Paralympic Committee of India recently, the Rio Paralympics silver medallist has been tirelessly working towards incorporating more sports science specialists for better results and educating the athletes about it. Malik believes this will only lead to a medal boom.”In Rio we had doubled the medal tally with a squad of 19 athletes. We won two gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal. At the Asian Para Games in 2018, we were a squad of 194 athletes and won 72 medals. It has already set the benchmark. The sensational thing about Tokyo next year would be India bagging Paralympics medals in double digits,” said Malik.The online live Instagram chat series ‘In The Sportlight’, which was started by 21-year-old Dani with the sole purpose of delivering inspiration to other young athletes and fans, has seen champion athletes such as Abhinav Bindra, Leander Paes, P.V. Sindhu, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju taking part.
The inspirational 49-year-old Malik, who had also won a silver medal at the IPC World Championships, has never let her disability come in the way of her passion.In 1999 when she was told that a surgery for removing a spinal tumour could lead to paralysis below the chest, the injured soldiers of the Kargil War and their hardships inspired her to come through her life’s biggest crisis.”The hospital where I was admitted for my surgery was full of war casualties. I think that immediately became my inspiration. I told myself that if these healthy young men were losing a limb in their line of duty, then I have no reason to crib just because I have a disease,” she recounted.Mentioning her inclusion in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), Malik described how it benefited her and helped her hire different experts, the efforts of which reaped rich dividends in Rio.While she won the silver for clearing a distance of 4.61m in shot put, the events javelin or shot put have not been included in the Toky Paralympics, which got postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which spurred on her decision to take up an administrative role.