Renowned para-athlete Deepa Malik on Monday said that she will be announcing her retirement later today in order to hold her post as the President of the Paralympic Committee of India.
Deepa Malik said that now she needs to look at the bigger picture to promote the budding para-athletes in the country. She added that she would be submitting her retirement letter today itself.
However, indicating that a sportsperson will never die in her, she said that she might make a comeback around 2022 Asian Games if the country wants her to.
As per the National Sports Code, an active athlete cannot hold an official post in any federation, and citing this rule, Malik said it is important for her to announce retirement and set a good example to follow the rules and guidelines.
Speaking to ANI about the decision, she said: "I will be submitting my retirement letter later today. To avoid the conflict of interest, and with a heavy heart, I have to take the decision of retirement. If I have to apply for the affiliation of the government, I have to follow the government rules. I want to focus on my duties as the President of the PCI".
"I have to go by the rules that exist in India. However, if the call of forces come into play, then I might re-think my decision around 2022 Asian Games, I do not know if the sportsperson in me will ever go away, for now, I have to retire, if I have to pursue the post in PCI, then I have to follow the law," she added.
The 49-year-old said that she feels proud of deciding to give back to the sport and added that it is important to follow the rules and guidelines that have been put in place.
"I am making this decision with a heavy heart, but I have to take this call for the betterment, I am proud that I have chosen to give back to the sport, if you want the government affiliation, then you have to follow the rules and guidelines," Malik said.
"International Paralympic Committee allows an official to participate, but it is in alignment with the national sports code, and my national sports code says that an active sportsperson cannot be an official or president in a sports federation, we are looking forward to getting affiliation from the government again, so we have to follow all guidelines, I have to be a true disciplinarian and have to abide by the rules," she added.
Deepa Malik has been a flag bearer for para-sports in the country and she was awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna on August 29 last year and as a result, she became the first Indian woman para-athlete to be conferred with the accolade.
Deepa has also collaborated with the Sports Authority of India as a moderator to do the educational zoom session for para-athletes in the country.
She is the first Indian woman to earn a medal at the Paralympic Games and has won 58 national and 23 international medals. Malik is also a recipient of the Padma Shri and Arjuna Award.
"I have had a sports journey of 15 years, it is time for me to now look beyond my own medals and try to shape up young talent," she concluded.