Paralympic medal winners felicitated by Sachin Tendulkar
Mumbai : Four Indian Rio Paralympics 2016 medal winners – Devendra Jhajharia, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati – were on Monday felicitated by a host of personalities, including Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.
On the occasion, Deepa Malik who became the first Indian woman to bag a medal in Paralympics by clinching a silver in women’s F53 shot put said, “Before flying to Rio, the desire of winning the medal for the country used to not let me sleep, but after achieving this feat, now this medal doesn’t let me sleep because of the appreciation and so many phone-calls by people around. It’s a good feeling.”
She also talked about the level of awareness about Para-sports in India sharing a personal experience. “I remember I was training for World Championship in swimming in the year 2008, we had a very senior politician who visited us in a function and what we athletes were given was a banana and two packets of biscuit. So, that was the level of awareness then.”Jhajharia, who had won gold medal in men’s javelin throw F46, rubbished that age is not the factor in playing any sport, “People discussed that Devendra is 35-years-old and will not be able to do it. But age is not a factor, your efforts matter. I consider Sachin Sir as my role model and I always looked up to himfor inspiration.”
Thangavelu, who clinched a gold medal in men’s high jump T42, said, “I wanted to achieve something and take care of my mother (who is a wage labourer) and therefore I started looking for sports. When I was a student, my friends never used to take me for games, but then I felt that I could do it and started high jump when I was in 8th standard. After winning (the medal), when I saw the Indian flag, I was in tears and I am very satisfied that I made my country proud.”
Retired Indian Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar appreciated the efforts put in by the four medal winners. “I am speechless and I don’t know what to say. It’s a special moment. I am truly honoured to be here. As an Indian, I am extremely proud of all four of you and the other athletes also who participated in Paralympics. The whole world calls them differently challenged and abled. According to me, these champions are extraordinarily-abled.”
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