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‘Larger than life time after Rio’

Deepa Malik summed up the mood of the four Paralympians since they won the medals in Rio de Janeiro when she said most of the people did not congratulate them per se but said ‘thank you’ for India.

‘Larger than life time after Rio’
(L) Thangavelu Mariappan, Deepa Malik, Varun Singh Bhati and Devendra Jhajharia in Velammal school


Malik, the first Indian woman to win a medal (silver) in the Paralympics, Tamil Nadu’s golden boy, Thangavelu Mariayappan, who won the high jump, Varun Singh Bhati, who came third behind Mariyappan in high jump (bronze) and Devendra Jhajharia, gold medallist in javelin throw were all overwhelmed by the response their medals received back home. 

Mariyappan said he was happy to be recognised everywhere in the state and vowed that he would prepare for the 2020 Paralympics in his effort to go for gold. “Personally I am touched by the traditional welcome you have given us in Chennai, the preparations and arrangements you made to felicitate us,” said 45-yearold Deepa Malik at a function organised by Velammal Vidyalaya on Thursday.

“It has been a huge honour for me and all of us,” said Deepa. “I am happy to be alongside two young men, who won medals in Rio and who are young enough to be my sons. It is a larger than life feeling. To be able to compete at this age and win medals along with the youth,” she said referring to Tamil Nadu’s Mariyappan and Varun Singh Bhati, both in their 20s.

For Devendra Jhajharia, who created two World records in Paralympics, it was a rare feat. “In 2004, I set a World record on my way to gold in javelin in Paralympics. And it was great that I could re-write my own record in Rio de Janeiro. I was proving to myself that I had not given up on life,” said Devendra in Hindi and duly translated by Deepa. 

“Now I know what it takes to win a medal because I have been training for the last 10 years for this. It has been a celebration every day. The sport has taught us to get up and learn to work hard,” said Deepa.

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