Inspiration, sometimes, is born when an individual is pushed to his/her limits by adversity and it results in something spectacular and extraordinary. The stories of Indian para-athletes Deepa Malik and Devendra Jhajharia are prime examples of the abovementioned predicament.
Both Malik and Jhajharia, have written their own scripts in their lives to provide inspiration to millions across India. Their journeys, to say the least, have been extremely tough and the manner in which they have outdone every obstacle is quite spectacular.
A look back at conversations before they went for the Games gives an idea of their confidence and the handicaps they had to overcome to achieve success.
Devendra Jhajharia may be the only Indian para-athlete to have won two Gold medals at the Games, in 2004 and 2016, and his story is very heart-warming.
When asked about his beginnings, he said, “I was only eight years old when I lost my left hand due to a massive electric shock and so, I was always seen as a ‘weak’ person in every field of life.”
“However, I never let that affect me and continued playing and participating in athletics, as I went on to win a district level tourney, competing with able-bodied athletes!
Jhajharia’s determination to succeed, and to prove that he wasn’t weak, kept him afloat in life as he took up sports as his passion.
The 35-year old never let deformity back him down from any challenge in life and exuded complete confidence before going to the Games, predicting that he would win the Gold, something he achieved in incredible fashion.
Another inspirational story is that of India's Silver medalist at the recent Games, Deepa Malik. Rendered paralyzed below her chest as a result of multiple spinal surgeries caused by repetitive spinal cord tumours, Deepa Malik’s career has been a very interesting one.
Speaking about what her thoughts were at the beginning, she said, “I thought the rest of my life would be spent on a bed, without any bowel or bladder control. I assumed I would be confined to a room forever.”
She also spoke about how everything changed for her once she started rehabilitation, saying, “Swimming and hydrotherapy made me realize how much I love physical activities and sports.”
Malik’s biggest achievement came at the 2016 Games, when she won Silver in the shot put, becoming the first Indian woman para-athlete to win a medal at the biggest stage.
What makes her achievement even more admirable is that she won the medal at the age of 45!
When asked about how they felt that IndusInd Bank and GoSports Foundation were investing in para-sports and para-athletes, both of them said that the only way to repay their support and encouragement was by winning medals at the Games and assured everyone that they would return from Brazil having made India proud.