A grand welcome awaits Rio Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik as she arrives at Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi late on Friday night.
Preparations are underway to give her a grand reception at a hotel in New Delhi, at her home in Gurgaon’s DLF Phase 1 and in Bhainswal, her in-laws’ ancestral village in Sonepat district.
At her residence in Silver Oaks Apartment on Gurgaon-Faridabad road, Deepa’s family members are eagerly awaiting her arrival. Her father, Colonel (retired) Bal Krishan Nagpal, 74, and mother Veena Nagpal, 71, have come from Jaipur to welcome their daughter.
On September 12, Deepa, 45, created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics by winning a silver medal in women’s shot put F53 event, with a personal best throw of 4.61 metres.
“She (Deepa) is now India’s daughter. It is as much a proud movement for us as it is for the country,” said Veena, who along with her husband has planned special prayers to welcome their daughter at her home.
“Her courage is out of this world. She would tell her father that she needed a wheelchair like spectacles are needed for eyes,” Veena said. Deepa’s brother, Brigadier Vikram Nagpal, posted in Jammu and Kashmir, has also come to join the family celebrations.
As much for others, Deepa is an inspiration to her daughters Devika, 24 and Ambika, 20. Devika, who is also specially-abled, said her mother’s grit never let her feel less privileged.
“I remember when I was eight and my sister Ambika was three, our father was at war in Kargil. Our mother underwent a surgery at that time. The family never let us feel that something was wrong with her. Being differently-abled is not an excuse in our family,” said Devika, also a para-athlete. Her sister Ambika lives in Gurgaon.
After landing in Delhi in a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight at 1:35am with her husband Colonel Bikram Singh Malik, Deepa will be received by political leaders including Haryana sports minister Anil Vij, government officials, sportspersons and relatives.
From there, Deepa, who is also a biker, will be escorted by the Gurgaon biker group Team X-BHP, to the Taj Palace hotel in Dhaula Kuan in New Delhi for a formal dinner.
Before winning a silver in Paralympics, Deepa was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2012 and the President’s Role Model Award in 2014. She also has four Limca records to her name. The para-athlete shifted to Gurgaon from Asiad Village in south Delhi six months ago.