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Outlining his vision for Indian sports, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has said that athletes should be treated "at par" with defence personnel of the country when it comes to training.
The Gujarat Chief Minister also emphasised on the need to have a better infrastructure in place for paralympic sports, according to international para-athlete Deepa Malik, who was part of the 'Chai Pe Charcha' with Modi on the occasion of International Women's Day yesterday.
"Sportspersons should be treated like a soldier. Modi ji said that sportspersons' status should be at par with soldiers and defence personnel of the country. The way they dedicate their life by sacrificing their family and time to the security of the country, similarly a sportsperson also undergoes rigorous training schedule, sacrifices a lot of things to win a medal for the country," Malik quoted Modi as saying.
Malik was among the six women sportspersons present during the discussion at the BJP Headquarters here yesterday. Besides the Arjuna awardee, cricketer Anjum Chopra and shooter Shuma Shirur were the other athletes who took part in the panel discussion.
"Issues regarding para sports infrastructure, visibility and awareness of para sports were also touched upon by Modi ji," she said.
A specialised visibility sports centre should also be set up.
"I asked him that we decorate our medal winners with awards, money and jobs but what do we do for those who set off on a long journey towards winning that medal," Malik said.
Talking about her struggles, Malik said, "I had to close down my catering business, sacrifice my life, lot of athletes leave half way due to lack of financial stability, too many athletes do not continue to pursue their goals."
Malik, a paraplegic woman, has won several medals in swimming, shot-put, javelin and discus throws.
To her credit, Malik, who is paralysed below her chest, has already set four Limca records: she swam 1 km across Yamuna river in 2008; rode a customised bike non-stop for 55.25 km in 2009; drove a customised car up to Khardung La (5,359 m) in 2011 and covered 3,278 km from Chennai to Delhi in a customised car in 2013.