Deepa Malik is paraplegic but with 39 gold medals in Indian and international sports meets, she lives life on her own terms
She is an avid biker, a swimmer, Her disability soon became her biggest strength. She never liked the way people visiting her would sympathise with her condition. This made her even more determined to prove to the world that she was no different. She started training in para-sports and took keen interest in swimming, javelin and shotput. This was not easy at all for Deepa. Having had surgery between her shoulder blades, her upper body would often protest when she trained. a motor-sport enthusiast and winner of multiple national and international athletic medals. She is also a doting mother of two beautiful daughters and wife of an army man. Deepa Malik is no ordinary person.
Deepa Malik is paraplegic, paralysed from waist down, but that has never stopped the 42 years old from living her life on her own terms. She has turned every adversity that came her way into opportunity and success.
Her free-flowing life took a sharp turn when around 14 years back, she was detected with spinal tumours which completely restricted her from walking. Despite three spinal tumour surgeries and 183 stitches between her shoulder blades, she walked out a winner and has never looked back since then.
Deepa’s vivacity and good looks mask the grit and pain behind her true story. At the age of seven, she was operated upon to remove a spinal cyst which left her bed-ridden for months. She got back to normal life soon and started taking interest in every form of sports. By the time she was in her late teens, she developed a passion for motorcycles and that’s how she met Bikram, whom she married at the age of 19.
In 1999, persistent back pains almost crippled her. She was detected with a large tumour and had to undergo an 18-hour-long surgery to remove it. The tumour was removed successfully but she was left paralysed chest down for the rest of her life. Deepa has won several medals at different national and international sporting competitions over the last seven years totalling to 39 golds, 4 silvers and 2 bronzes. She holds an IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Asian record in javelin, holds all three national records in discuss, javelin and shot-put, holds all three Indian national records in swimming (back stroke, breast stroke and free style) and several other records. She was featured in the Limca Book of Records for her three feats – swimming in the Yamuna against the current in Allahabad, riding a specially designed bike and driving across nine high altitude passes in Leh. Deepa has also been decorated with various awards – Swawlamban Puraskar (2006), Rotary Woman of the Year (2007), Stree Shakti Puraskar (2011) by CARE and Arjuna Award (2012), India’s highest prize for a sportsman, among others.
Deepa successfully runs a restaurant by the name of Dee’s Place in Ahmednagar where the family is settled. She takes out time to visit different forums and institutions to speak on self-belief, persistence, courage and motivation. She has also ‘wheeled’ the ramp for the Satya Paul fashion label in 2011.