India registerd their best ever perfomance at the Asian Cycling Championships when Manorama Devi and Deborah added a silver medal each on the final day of the track events on Monday. Manorama,won silver in the keirin race while Deborah finished second in the junior sprint race.
Ahead of the keirin race,while most expectations were from Deborah,who had earlier won two bronze and a silver,it was the 16-year old from Manipur who stunned everyone with her sensational run in the last 30 metres of the event to snatch silver for India.
“I had a plan to trail back and then come down the slope towards the end of the race. I changed that plan when I realised I had the chance of winning a medal in the last lap. The change in tactics is what helped me to win silver,” said a relieved Manorama.
Manorama finished 0.131 seconds behind eventual gold winner Shiou Yu Cheng of Taipei but beat Korean Yonhee Jang,who finished with the bronze,by 0.009 seconds. At the bell,both the Indians Deborah and Manorama were the last of the six riders but when it mattered most,Manorama showed presence of mind to come up with a burst that left the Koreans and Malaysians shocked.
In fact,both the two Koreans in the race were ahead at the 250 meter point but Manorama maneuvered her way through a tight opening which the Korean provided,paving the way for the podium finish.
Meanwhile,in the final of the junior women sprint race,India’s hope of bagging its first-ever gold at the Asian Cycling Championships was dashed after Deborah lost her gold-medal play-off race to Korea’s Yeonhee Jang. In the first heat,Deborah took the initiative and stayed ahead keeping a close eye on her Korean opponent,who was looking for an opening in the three lap race. With over a lap to go,Yeonhee zoomed past Deborah to touch down the base line just 0.108 secs in advance.
Deborah,however,pulled one back beating her rival by 0.022 secs in an agonising close battle to take the contest into the final round. An alert Yeonhee,in the final heat,started ahead of Deborah. The Korean did not give space and stayed ahead of the Indian,who failed to catch up with her opponent’s acceleration and lost the race by 0.356 seconds to settle for a silver.
“Her inexperience showed in the final heat. The Korean sprinted at the right moment and made it difficult for Deborah to match her. The sprint tournament is an extremely difficult competition as tactics and timing play decisive roles over gruelling rounds of duels. I am sure she will learn a lot from this experience,” team coach Ruma Chatterjee said.
India ended the track races with a tally of four medals,all won by women in junior category,including two bronze earlier in the Championship. The duo of Deborah and Manorama on Sunday had won a bronze in the team sprint event after the former had opened India’s account by clinching a bronze in the 500 metre time trial on the opening day.
Koreans proved to be the Asian giants of the track races,topping the medal chart with 12 gold,seven silver and seven bronze for a total tally of 26 medals. Malaysia were the big movers on the last day of the track races,displacing Hong Kong from the second spot with 7 gold,3 silver and 6 bronze. Hong Kong came in third with 7 gold,two silver and one bronze medals. India finished a creditable ninth with two silvers and two bronze.
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