Friday, December 25, 2015

India's first and only Paraplegic Confident Woman

Deepa Malik :-

"Life is a festival, celebrate it every day"

“If you felt things stopped you, try a wheel chair’ We have heard stories of individuals who have triumphed against all odds but Deepa is a cut above the rest.

She is the first paraplegic, Indian woman biker, swimmer, car rallyist, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and a restaurateur. Her three spinal tumour surgeries and the 183 stitches between shoulder blades sound insignificant compared to her achievements - national and international awards and a mention in record books.

Deepa Malik (born 30 September 1970) ,has won numerous accolades for her participation in various adventure sports. Whether it is swimming against the strong Yamuna current, or riding a special bike or even taking a shot at the Paralympic Games, she has done it all. She has won bronze medal in Women's Javelin Throw. She has got nominated in Limca Book of Records for her swimming records.

Malik is not an ordinary person. She is a paraplegic, paralysed from waist down, but that has not stopped the 41-year-old from taking up challenges. Wife of a retired Cavalier Col, Mother of two adult daughters, an international sports person & medalist, first paraplegic woman biker and a car rallyist with a difference and FIRST sportswoman to represent the country at international level in her category of disability { F-53 }. in fact, turned adversities into opportunity and success.

Deepa Malik was diagnosed with spinal tumor 12 years ago and in August 2012, she received the Arjuna award from the president of India for her achievements in track and field. It was a tough time for Malik family. Her husband Bikram Singh Malik was fighting the Kargil war and at home Deepa was struggling with her tumors. Finally the family won both the war. India won Kargil.

But the journey till here wasn’t easy. It never is. But she did it.

Braving her life with chest below paralysis, she had to undergo  three spinal tumor surgeries which required 183 stitches between her shoulder blades for past 14 yrs. She survived the tumor but was left paralyzed from waist down. Like all of us she had two choices – one to lead a life indulged in self pity and the other to turn adversities into opportunities. She chose the latter.

Deepa also runs a successful restaurant by the name Dee’s Place in Ahmed Nagar, where the family is settled. She is very active in adventures sports. She is associated with Himalayan Motorsports Association (H.M.A.) and Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (F.M.S.C.I.). A lesson for all able and disables, she has done 8 days 1700 k.m. drive in minus degree temperatures. Even on an altitude of 18000 feet with oxygen shortage, she was able to sustain it all. It was - Raid De Himalaya. This journey covers many difficult paths including remote Himalayas, Leh, Shimla and Jammu.

She took to sports at the age of 36. She ran a catering and restaurant business for seven years but had to close it down after she decided to train for the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2010.

Deepa battled the odds to win laurels in para-athletics. She won two gold medals (javelin and discus) at the Malaysian Open athletics championship in April and achieved a world ranking of No.3.

Her name is registered twice in the Limca Book of Records: for crossing a 1-km stretch of the Yamuna River against the current in 2008 and covering 58 kms by riding a special bike this year.
Her tally of medals is impressive – two new Asian records at the World Games at Sharjah in December last year and two bronze medals including a silver medal at the World athletics championship at Christchurch, New Zealand, apart from a bronze medal at the Para – Asian games held in China earlier. At the national and state level, Deepa has notched 39 golds, four silver and two bronze medals.

In an interview to DNIS, she talked about her life after the disability. Here are a few excerpts :
“When I started life afresh on a wheelchair after spinal cord damage, I had to undergo serious physiotherapy. When I interacted with people like myself, I realized they all felt a lack of direction. Most people think that life is restricted due to paralysis. For women, it is worse! Lucky to have full family back up and education on my side, I decided to give hope to those who were paralyzed.

I started doing various outdoor activities. I call myself to be on this mission – ‘Ability beyond Disability’. My aim is to change the stereotypical image of wheelchair users that people generally have and sensitize society toward my type of disability. The media is the best way to reach out to maximum people. Coverage of the activities I do help in convincing paraplegics at motivational workshops that a ‘normal’ life is possible even on a wheelchair!

It was pretty depressing in the beginning but the love and support of my family made the process easy for me. The acceptance of your disability by your near and dear ones can make a lot of contribution to ones confidence.

It made me look at life from a new window. I learned everything all over again, right from turning into a bed to sit, from having a bath to changing clothes. But the biggest challenge I faced was timing my bladder and water intake.

The things which I had taken for granted when I was not disabled, now seemed like big hurdles. A step just six inches high could actually restrict my accessibility, the same step that I possibly never ever noticed before! Disability brought my life into focus. I started a restaurant supporting the education of a few children, set out on a mission to motivate people like me with the help of my activities. In short I learnt to give back to society and realized the true sense of living. “

It is very rightly said that disability is only in our thoughts.People like Deepa make us realize that we are restricted only by our notion of our capabilities and limits. Hope she is successful in her mission. Hats off to her!

Member of the working group in the formulation twelfth five year plan {2012-2017} on sports and physical education as nominated by the planning commision hrd division on behalf of sports ministry.

  • Holds An Official IPC Asian Record In Javelin F-53 Category
  • Holds All Three National Records In Throws {Discuss, Javelin, Shot-put} In F-53 Category
  • Holds All Three National Records In S-1 Swimming Category {Back Stroke, Breast Stroke, Free Style }
  • World Ranking 2010-12 – 2nd Shot-put, 3rd -Discus, 3rd Javelin
  • Asian Ranking 2010-12 – 1st In All Three Throws


- Inspiration
- Self belief
- Persistance
- Courage
- Motivation
- Adventure
- Change

On August 29, 2012 she was presented with the prestigious Arjuna Award at the age of 42 years (oldest athlete to ever receive the award for active sports) by Honorable President, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. This award represents in a nutshell, all the laurels won by her in her illustrious sports career so far. These achievements are detailed as follows-

Total no of medals at various games