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Providing proper accessibility key to bringing more international para events to India: Deepa Malik

New Delhi, Mar 10 (PTI) Former Paralympic Committee of India chief Deepa Malik said providing proper accessibility to athletes with disabilities was the key to hosting major international para competitions in the country.

New Delhi, Mar 10 (PTI) Former Paralympic Committee of India chief Deepa Malik said providing proper accessibility to athletes with disabilities was the key to hosting major international para competitions in the country.

The celebrated former para athlete, whose term as PCI president ended on Saturday with two-time Paralympics gold-medallist javelin throw Devendra Jhajharia succeeding her, added that hotels, hostels and public transport should be made more user-friendly for athletes with disabilities.

'If we are to host major para sports events and even otherwise to support the Divyang (people with disabilities) population, we need to work on accessibility, especially in public transport, hotels and hostels,' Deepa told PTI Videos on Saturday.

Deepa, the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics medal -- a silver in shot put in 2016 Rio --, added that her tenure as PCI chief was fruitful where she revived the junior and sub-junior competitions after nearly a decade.

'PCI has proved that it is an athlete-centric federation where one athlete is handing over the baton to another (Jhajharia). I am happy that we had several firsts during the last four years.

'We revived the junior and sub-junior competitions after almost 10 years and women's participation increased 40 per cent, which has reflected in the medal count as well.

'We started several programmes like anti-doping awareness, trainer courses and hosted several international competitions,' she added.

India is currently hosting its first-ever Para Shooting World Cup at the Karni Singh Ranges, which was awarded to the country during Deepa's tenure.

She added that another major achievement of her team was the welfare of para athletes during Covid times and how the period was utilised to make the players more IT savvy.

'Through webinars, we translated the rules of the International Paralympic Committee in the athletes' local languages, made them more aware about sports science, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

'The results were evident when we won 19 medals at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021 after just four at the 2016 Rio Games. Our athletes won a record 111 medals at the Hangzhou Asain Games last year.' She, however, said a lot still needs to be done to attract more youngsters to take up para sports.

'An overall increase in the ecosystem is required. I also want more people with science and nutrition background to join the para sports world,' she concluded. PTI RM AM AM AM AM AM

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