Tsunami survivor Deborah bagged a bronze medal to mark an impressive beginning to India's campaign on the opening day of the Hero Asian Cycling Championship at the IG Velodrome in New Delhi on Thursday.
19-year old Deborah gave India only its second medal at the ongoing Championship when she finished the 500m time trial finals in 37.841s, marginally behind Korea's Yeonhee Jang (37.159s) and Yu Shiou Chenh of Taipei (37.834s).
Despite an imperfect start at the release point in her first attempt, the girl from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands quickly gained momentum much to the cheer of handful of supporters present at the Velodrome.
"I went blank after I got tripped. I told myself to be calm as I had to start immediately. After the first lap I knew I was in with a chance to finish on the podium. I am happy I lived up to the expectations," said Deborah, a survivor of 2004 tsunami.
"The feeling is yet to sink in. I am so happy to have done my country proud. It's always been my dream to do well. I am looking forward to representing India at more international meets," she said.
It was a perfect start for India as Jashanjit Kaur qualified for the bronze medal match of the 2km-Individual Pursuit, making an impressive debut for the country in the high-profile event.
The 16-year-old cyclist from Patiala will take on Yekaterina Yuraitis of Kazakhstan on Friday in the third position duel.
Another Indian girl, Sunita Devi (4:04.423s) bettered her previous best in the 3 km Individual pursuit event set at the Commonwealth Games in 2010. However, she finished fifth in the event won by Japanese Sakura Tsukagoshi (3:46.326s). The silver went to Korea's Youri Kim (3:53.546s) while the bronze was taken by Li Jiujin of China (3:57.499s).
Three Asian Championship records tumbled on the opening day of the competition. Muhammad Firdau Modh Zonis of Malaysia went past the finish line in 1:05.758s to win a gold medal in the 1km Time trial, bettering Japanese Shugo Hayasaka's record of 1:06.493s.
Korea's Sunjae Jang broke the 4km Individual record in the qualification round of the men's elite competition by clocking 4:33.384s bettering his previous record of 4:34.006s.
Sakura Tsukagoshi of Japan clocked 3:46.362s in the qualification stage of the 3k Individual event - WE to better China's Fang Li Mei (3:46.788s) previous Asian record.
Meanwhile, the 33rd Senior and 20th Junior Asian championship was inaugurated with a performance by an artist group comprising differently-abled dancers staging musical Mahabharat.
Also, a brass-band enthralled the small audience present at the venue with their music. The chief of Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) Hee Wok Cho was the guest of honour along with Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.