The story of Deepa Malik: An Arjuna awardee who overcame 3 spinal surgeries, 183 stitches between her shoulder bones and a spinal tumour to win a silver medal at Rio Paralympics


Deepa Malik

For Deepa Malik, life has never been able to pose an obstacle that could dim her spirit. Brought up in a family of Army personnel and wife to an armed forces officer, she was accustomed to overcoming challenges that the vast majority of us can’t even think of. She experienced 3 spinal surgeries and got 183 stitches between her shoulder bones in 14 years, after being diagnosed with spinal tumor. All of this could not break her, rather made her more determined. 

She was left disabled starting from the waist down and the specialists declared that she could never walk again. What the specialists didn’t knew that surrendering to difficulties was never Deepa’s style. She started by joining the Himalayan Motorsports Association and vanquished an 8-day long 1,700 km bicycle ride to 18,000 feet above sea level. She chose to end up distinctly as a swimmer, a biker, and an enterprise addict. A tremendous enthusiast of biking, she took up swimming to make her shoulders and arms more grounded for the bicycle rides. But, her abilities under water were as amazing as on the open street. In 2008, she crossed a 1 km range of the Yamuna River against the current. In 2011, she turned into the primary paraplegic lady to drive to Khardunga La pass. She finished the longest drive in India (3,278 km from Chennai to Delhi) in 2013. And she achieved all this at just 36 years of age.

She was shortlisted for the 2012 London Paralympics, however she missed her opportunity as India sent an all-male contingent of 10. But the next time, she was one of India’s 19 Paralympians at Rio 2016 and brought us a silver medal in shot put. . Apart from all such astounding achievements, Deepa is also good at javelin throws. At the national level, Deepa has won around 54 awards to add to the 13 at International level in javelin throw, shot put and swimming. Her astonishing accomplishments in the realm of sports and her enthusiasm to fulfil her dreams got her an Arjuna Award in 2012. She is the best story of grit and courage for many of us. She is about will, the pledge to succeed and about that unending thirst to make the nation proud no matter what the circumstances.

This article was originally published in The Optimist Citizen – Issue 19 dated 16 FEB ’17.  To read the entire story and to know more about Deepa’s work SUBSCRIBE NOW.
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