Gritty Deborah clinches bronze

Junior cyclist Deborah opened India’s medal tally on Wednesday by bagging a bronze in the 500 metre time trial in the Hero Asian Cycling Championship at the Indira Gandhi Velodrome here on Thursday.

 The Tsunami survivor from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands clocked 37.841 seconds to finish behind Korea’s Yeonhee Jang (37.159) and Chinese Taipei’s Yu Shiou Cheng (37.834).

 Under pressure after the stellar performance by the Korean, Deborah overcame a false start to stay in the medal race. Deborah got tripped by the tap at the release point but regrouped quickly to gain momentum at the 50-metre mark.

Though happy to win a medal, Deborah felt her performance could have been better had she not fumbled at the start. “This is for the first time we were using starting gates. We never had them during the national events, so I was not used to it. I kept my calm and told myself to focus on my performance. After the first lap, I was confident of winning a medal,” said Deborah, who won her first track gold in the Amritsar Nationals in January.

She was also only the second Indian to win a medal in the Asian championship.

National chief coach Ruma Chatterjee called Deborah the brightest prospect for the country.“Her strength is her fitness and she works very hard. We will now be sending her to international events. If she did not have the false start, we would have surely won gold. We will now be suggesting the use of starting gates at the national events,” she said.

Jashanjit Kaur brought more cheer to the Indians camp when she qualified to compete for a bronze medal in the 2km individual pursuit.

The 16-year-old Punjab cyclist will be up against with Yekaterina Yuraitis of Kazakhstan for the bronze medal while Hong Kong’s Yao Pang and Yi Ju Lin will aim for the top podium finish.

In other events, Sunita Devi bettered her previous best (4.07) but finished fifth (4:04.4235) in the individual pursuit 3km event. The event was won by Japanese Sakura Tsukagoshi (3:46.326) followed by South Korean Youri Kim (3:53.546) and Chinese Li Jiujin (3:57.499).

Malaysian Muhammad Firdua, who won the gold in the 1-km event, became the cynosure of all eyes by setting a new meet record at 1:05.758.

He overhauled the previous best by improving by 54.74 seconds. The previous record standing was recorded by Shugo Hayasaka of Japan, who clocked 1:06.493 at the last championship in Kuala Lumpur.

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