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From Paraplegic to Paralympics Winner Deepa Malik’s Survival Story

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Deepa Malik is a paraplegic Indian athlete. She is the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympic Games.  Deepa won a Silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the shot put. She has been participating in various adventure sports like swimming, biking, shot put, javelin throw etc.  She undertook an 8-day, 1700-km drive in sub-zero temperatures named as Raid De Himalaya. This expedition covered many difficult paths like those of the remote Himalayas, Leh, Shimla, and Jammu.

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Deepa Malik’s name is a synonym of courage and inner strength. Deepa belongs to an army background. She is the daughter of a veteran Infantry Colonel BK Nagpal. Like any other normal woman, Deepa too got married and had two kids. She is the wife of a veteran cavalier Colonel Bikram Singh and mother of two girls- Devika and Ambika; both now grown ups. In short, she had an absolutely normal happy life till the tragedy struck her.  In 1999 Deepa Malik was diagnosed with a spinal tumor while her husband was fighting in the Kargil war and her one daughter was unwell. This was the beginning of a life full of struggles for her. Deepa underwent 3 spinal surgeries and got 183 stitches between her shoulder blades in a period of 14 years. But these sufferings didn’t break Deepa’s confidence rather they made her stronger and more determined. While her husband fought for India, Deepa fought and went on to win her own battle.

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Deepa Malik was left paralyzed from the waist down and the doctors told her that she would never walk again!

But the doctors didn’t know that Deepa Malik wasn’t a weak woman. She said NO to giving up and decided to overcome her physical disability through her mental strength. By her strong willpower, she trained herself to become a swimmer, a biker, an athlete & an adventure junkie. She achieved all this at the age of 36.

Deepa Malik currently 46, is India’s first woman to win a medal at Paralympics. At an age when most athletes being aged and unfit to consider retirement, Deepa started her career. She started her journey by joining the Himalayan Motorsports Association and won an 8-day 1,700 km bike ride to 18,000 feet in sub-zero temperatures. She appeared in the popular TV reality show Roadies, being personally invited by show maker Raghu & the Roadies crew. Deepa is a huge lover of biking. So she learned swimming to make her shoulders and arms stronger for the bike rides. Her prowess in swimming was as wonderful as in biking. Deepa Malik went on to break many records in the swimming.

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Deepa Malik entered the Limca Book of Records 4 times

  • She completed the longest drive in India (3,278 km from Chennai to Delhi) in 2013.
  • In 2011, she became the first paraplegic woman to drive to Khardunga La pass, the highest motorable pass in the world.
  • She rode a special bike for 58 km in 2009.
  • In 2008, she crossed a 1 km stretch of the Yamuna river against the current.

Deepa Malik also does javelin throws and shot put, an event in which she participated and won Silver Medal at the Rio Paralympics 2016.

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Deepa Malik had earlier been shortlisted for India’s delegation to the 2012 London Paralympics, but since India had received only 10 spots, an all-male contingent was sent and Deepa could not go.  In 2016 India sent 19 athletes including Deepa. She brought home a silver medal in Shot Put from Rio. At the national level, Deepa has won around 54 medals. Deepa Malik was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2012 by the Indian government.

Deepa Malik is confined to a wheelchair, but her willpower takes her to places where even normal persons don’t dare easily to go. Hats off to this wonderful woman!

 

 

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