Deepa Malik, who became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympic Games when she bagged a silver in shot put F 53 at the Rio Paralympics in 2016, is named the recipient of the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship for 2019. Deepa has been conferred the award in recognition of her ‘inspiring achievements’.
“We are very pleased to announce that the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship for 2019 has been awarded to Indian Paralympic athlete Deepa Malik. The fellowship, awarded by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, aims to strengthen the ties between India and New Zealand,” a New Zealand High Commission release said.
Deepa Malik is the only Indian woman to have won medals in three consecutive Asian Para Games in 2010, 2014 and 2018. At 36, she was diagnosed with a spinal tumour which left her unable to walk. She competes in F53 category of parasport and has a total of 58 national and 23 international medals. “Having won my first major medal, a silver in F 53 women’s Shot Put at the IPC World Para Athletics Championship 2011 in Christchurch, I have always had a special connect with New Zealand and its Paralympics fraternity and I happily accept this purposeful association on behalf of my fellow citizens of India,” Deepa said after hearing the news.
As a recipient of this award, Deepa Malik will work to promote sporting, cultural as well people-to-people relationship between India and New Zealand. She will share her experiences in New Zealand far and wide, bringing greater understanding and helping to build the people-to-people links between the two countries. Deepa, on her part, said the conferment of the prestigious fellowship on her was a “clear declaration of great attention towards the empowerment of women and of people with disabilities, and the celebration of diverse cultures in both countries”.
A recipient of Padma Shri and the prestigious Arjuna Award, Deepa has entered the Limca Book of World Records four times. She is indeed an example of extreme courage and endurance for all sportsperson. The New Zealand High Commission release further declared, “It gives us great pleasure to award this fellowship to someone who exemplifies two values that make a great sportsperson: courage and a can-do attitude. In Deepa, we see an inspiring achiever who can confidently and proudly carry forward our message of inclusivity and the pursuit of excellence.”