Deepa Malik pleads for more sponsors to support Paralympians

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Shirdi Sai Baba Foundation has adopted five Para athletes and has helped the Paralympics committee launch the 'Mission 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Games' in the 'Radiant Quest for Gold'.

Just like the Sports Ministry launched its preparations for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Paralympics Committee of India too has kicked off its plans or the 2020 Paralympics.

Shirdi Sai Baba Foundation has adopted five Para athletes and has helped the Paralympics committee launch the 'Mission 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Games' in the 'Radiant Quest for Gold'. The Paralympics community was overjoyed to get this help and hopes that more sponsors come forward to support their cause.

"They have come forward to support our Paralympics movement and these baby steps can actually result in a giant leap. Like they say a good beginning is half the battle won and this is a pious beginning. I really want more sponsors to come forward and I plead from this platform that it is high time that everybody believes in us because we have already proved our worth that we as para-athletes and para-sportspersons can do wonders to put India's identity as a sporting nation on the global map", said Rio Paralympics Silver medalist Deepa Malik to India Today. Deepa was felicitated at the event along with Gold medalist Devendra Jhajharia.

"I would like to thank the Satya Sai trust that is sponsoring these athletes. It is not just about 10 athletes, this will inspire & motivate them. Our performance in 2016 has been good all around, we won two Gold medals, including one with a World record, we won a Silver and a Bronze as well, so I would say 2016 has been a momentous year for India's Para sports. Today the Paralympics Committee of India has launched our preparations for the 2020 and 2024 Paralympics as well", said the world record holder.

The ceremony to adopt the first batch of five athletes was presided over by Rao Inderjit Singh, President PCI and MoS (I/C) for Ministry of Planning and Urban Development. The selected athletes will be helped in terms of practice facilities, coaches, training equipment and centers.

"The Prime Minister also has said that India must churn out more athletes and make India a sporting nation in the next decade or so and we are attempting to do so. On behalf of PCI as the President I have tried to chalk out an action plan whereas not only those who have achieved some laurels for the country are recognized by the countrymen but also the upcoming talent should be given some kind of motivation and help, so those who have come 4th, 5th or 7th, we are trying to give those guys some incentive so that they reach medal standards, first in Asian Games coming up in 2018 in Jakarta and thereafter the 2020 Paralympics in Japan", said the PCI President.

The athletes adopted in the first batch are the ones who narrowly missed out on medals in Rio. Sandeep finished 4th while Rinku was placed 5th at the 2016 Paralympics.

"I will reach Tokyo 2020 with my full preparation so that I do not miss a medal this time and that our Tricolour flies the highest. My next target is to do well in the London World Championships in July and I am fully focused on that and am training for it in Sonipat under a Dronacharya award winning coach", said Sandeep. "I had a great experience in Rio Paralympics and I hope to do much better in Tokyo 2020. The support of this foundation will help us a lot and I hope to do well in 2018 Asian Games", added Rinku.

Aushim Khetrapal, chief founder of the Shirdi Sai Baba Foundation hopes that members of his foundation and other sponsors too come forward to support the Para athletes. "There is a small difference between winning and losing and if your heart fears none then you will 100% win. My whole idea of coming here is that apart from the sport, give motivation lessons to these athletes. It is all about winning at the end of the day so if they feel they are there amongst the best in the world, that is half the battle won. This is just the first step and soon people from our foundation may also come forward and support this", he said. "Our focus would be on training facilities which should be all over the country and not only in Sports Authority of India stadiums and stadia and also that these athletes should be trained abroad to compete with their peers. They should not have any inferiority complex when they compete against white skins in the Paralympics", concluded Rao Inderjit Singh, the PCI President.

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