The first thing Deborah did after winning bronze on Thursday was to seek the blessing of her parents, who stay in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. “I called my father, the entire family prayed for my success,” said the 19-year-old after the 500m time trial of the junior women’s event.
Deborah dedicated the win to the Almighty. “We were fortunate to survive the tsunami. So, I always offer prayers before I start my day,” she said on the opening day of the 33rd Senior and 20th Junior Hero Asian Cycling Championship at the IG Stadium velodrome.
Winning a medal in the continental event is no mean achievement for one who hardly had facilities back home. Moreover, she has only two years of training under her belt. But the sacrifice — she did not go home for 10 months, paid off as she overcame stiff challenge from the Malaysian and South Korean riders. “I had faith in myself,” she told HT.
The race, however, had its share of drama. Deborah had a false start, but on the second attempt, her steely nerves and power-packed legs saw her through with a timing of 37.841 seconds.
Korea’s Yeon hee Jang won gold in 37.159s while Chinese Taipei’s Yu Shiou Cheng took silver in 37.834s.
Later, Deborah lined up for the 200m sprint event and qualified for the next round. “She is our best hope,” said coach, Ruma Chatterjee. The medal helped Deborah’s dreams come true. “She had a narrow escape during training last year, but her inherent strength coupled with fine-tuning at the national camp prepared her for the big occasion,” said Chatterjee.
Deborah finished fifth in the scratch race (7.5km). In the men’s event, four riders crashed during the last lap of the 10km event and Japan’s Hiroki Moriguchi was injured. The event was won by Malaysia’s Irwandie Lakasek.