Deepa Malik can now have as much confectioneries as she wishes to, no one is going to stop her. Not that anyone or anything has ever stopped her from anything once she has put her mind to it; Rio Paralympics shot put silver medal is a testament.
Back in India after her historic achievement -- her medal was the first in Paralympics for an Indian female athlete -- Malik is relieved and grateful her hard work of 10 years has paid off. She now wants to use the medal, certainly the most priced possession at her residence in Gurgaon, as a symbolic platform to inspire others.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q. When did you start preparing for the Rio games, and did you think a medal was in the offing?
A. I always wanted to be an Olympian and after missing Beijing and London I did not take any chance (this time) and started preparing. It took 10 years to win this medal for my country and the journey was not easy as it seems. Initially, I was a swimmer but then it was a roller coaster between javelin and shot put and since 2009 I picked up the shot put and finally, my hard work and confidence have got me here.
Q. Do you think more needs to be done for para-athletes in the country?
A. Yes, there is a lot to be done for the para-athletes; the proposed Para-Olympic Bhawan at Faridabad will be a platform for the people to get proper training, focus and diet. We just need to be diligent with the infrastructure and the architecture so that people on the wheel chair can move around.
Q. What role has your family played in the achievement?
A. My family was confident I will return with a medal. Without their support, it would not have been possible. From my training sessions to sleep, they had taken care of even the minor things. They did not even let me drive during the preparation as they were very careful that I should not be involved in any minor accident. My daughters did not even let me chop vegetables for fear of cuts that could harm my opportunity to take part in the Paralympics.
Q. Who has inspired you the most in overcoming the physical and mental obstacles in life?
A. The credit goes to my upbringing. I have seen and heard heroic war stories and the challenges they have gone through. I had learnt to keep going and not looking back. My family never pondered why it happened or what will we do, rather they planned ahead and motivated me to keep fit. Being an Army kid was a big help for me in the life.