A spastic paraplegic, mother of two, she heads for the Paralympics
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Faster, higher, stronger — in the collective mourning for the Indian hockey team's failure to qualify for the Olympics, no one's heard of one gutsy woman from Ahmednagar near Pune who perhaps best symbolises what the Games stand for. She's Deepa Mallick, 39, mother of two, a spastic paraplegic, with no movement in her body the third shirt button down, who is set to become the first woman to represent India in the Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing.
She will be participating in the javelin event. But before that, she will become the first Indian woman to participate in the International Paralympic Swimming Championship in Germany in May.
And that's only half the story. Mallick was just eight when she was first detected with a tumour in the spine. Since then, she has had three spinal surgeries, with spasticity, leading to 183 stitches, laminectomy on seven vertebrae (surgical removal of the rear part of a vertebra in order to gain access to the spinal cord or nerve roots) as well as gone through lack of bladder and bowel control.
Along the way, she has won laurels for her college team in baseball and cricket, represented India at the Asia Pacific Games, opened a restaurant, is an avid biker, won a beauty contest, and is right now getting ready to head for Gwalior to train for the Paralympics.
When a tumour was discovered in her spine for the first time 31 years ago, she lost movement in her lower limbs. An operation later, the little girl had to move around with a crude equipment attached to her like a chest brace with chin guard. She would recover, regain movement in her limbs, and go on to become a member of her college basketball and cricket teams.
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