With exactly a year for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics to commence, the 2016 Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik is bubbling with confidence that the Indian contingent will work hard to double the medal tally at the global event.
"Exactly one year is left for the Paralympics. It is a big milestone for the players. The list will be finalised soon. So, the players should work hard and pull up their socks. We won a total of 11 medals in Paralympics so far. We hope to double the medal tally in the 2020 event," Malik told ANI here on Sunday.
The Indian para-athlete has made an appeal to the country, calling for greater participation of specially-abled women and girls to participate in sports.
"I do feel proud when I am being called as India's first para-athlete woman. In the last 70 years of our Independence, we got a Paralympic medal and after 73 years of our freedom, a first para-athlete player will be honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. I hope women and girls come forward and get themselves empowered in sports," said Malik.
The 48-year-old para-athlete won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics Games in shot put.
She thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Paralympic Committee of India and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for their continuous efforts to support the Paralympic players.
"Our mentality has become inclusive. The results are now visible. Para games have been added to the Khelo India programme. Para-games have now become popular at school-level," Malik added.
Talking about the forthcoming Paralympics Games, Malik said that para-athletes are now being funded at par with their Olympic counterparts.
"Our players are qualifying in the world events -- be it shooting, badminton, table tennis, archery or athletics. Our players are continuously competing at the international level," she said.
The 2020 Tokyo Paralympics is scheduled to begin from August 25 and will go on till September 6. Over 4,000 athletes from across the world are scheduled to participate in the event.
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