19 July 2024

NZ fellowship for Indian Paralympic athlete, Deepa

India’s 48-year-old Deepa Malik, who won the silver medal in shot put event in Rio Paralympics in 2016, has been named as the recipient of the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship 2019 in recognition of her “inspiring achievements”.

“We are very pleased to announce that the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship for 2019 has been awarded to Indian Paralympic athlete Deepa Malik. The fellowship, awarded by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, aims to strengthen the ties between India and New Zealand,” a New Zealand High Commission release on Thursday said.

Deepa Malik with NZ High Commissioner, Joanna Kempkers (Courtesy: Twitter @DeepaAthlete)

“It gives us great pleasure to award this fellowship to someone who exemplifies two values that make a great sportsperson: courage and a can-do attitude. In Deepa, we see an inspiring achiever who can confidently and proudly carry forward our message of inclusivity and the pursuit of excellence,” it added.

Congratulating Deepa, the NZ High Commissioner, Joanna Kempkers said, “Deepa will be a great ambassador for the India-New Zealand relationship. We hope that she will share her experiences in New Zealand far and wide, bringing greater understanding and helping to build the people-to-people links between the two countries.”

Reacting to the conferment of the prestigious fellowship on her, Deepa said,  “I feel absolutely humbled and blessed to be able to represent the essence of India, for the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Prime Minister Ardern’s leadership is such an inspiration to the world and resonates with Indian values.”

Deepa tweets

Deepa has a special connection to New Zealand as she had won her first major medal, a silver in F53 women’s shot put at the IPC World Para Athletics Championship 2011 in Christchurch.

As a Fellow, Deepa will travel to New Zealand and meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, undertake a series of visits to Paralympic sporting organisations and engage with local Kiwi athletes and others.

Deepa was diagnosed with a spinal tumour which left her unable to walk when she was 36-years-old.

A recipient of Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award for excellence in sports, she is the only Indian woman to have won medals in three consecutive Asian Para Games in 2010, 2014 and 2018 in addition to silver at Rio.

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