The 19-year-old Deborah is no stranger to handling crisis and challenges. In December 2004, catastrophe struck the Andaman and Nicobar cyclist as her home was destroyed by the tsunami.

Deborah, along with her family, took refuge in a forest nearby before things limped back to normal.

Deborah, who has established herself as one of India’s top riders, faced a challenge of a different kind on the opening day of the Hero Cycles Asian cycling championships here on Thursday. She was forced to abort her first run in the women’s junior 500m time trial final after a false start.

Given another opportunity, the cyclist responded in stunning fashion to finish third and win India’s first medal in the championships here.

“I went blank after tripping at the start. Then I told myself to be calm, even though I had to start immediately. After the first lap, I knew I had a chance to finish on the podium,” said Deborah.

Jashnjeet to battle for bronze

Jashnjeet Kaur will look to boost India’s tally on Friday when she battles Kazakhstan’s Yekaterina Yuraitis in the women’s junior 2km individual bronze medal play-off after finishing fourth in qualifying.

Among the other Indians, Mahitha Mohan (women’s 20km points race) and Alan Baby (men’s junior 1km time trial) could not make it to the podium. Shahbaaz Bhangu (men’s 4km individual pursuit), Sunita Devi (women’s 3km individual pursuit), Dilawar (men’s junior 3km individual pursuit) and the men’s sprint team (both categories) failed to qualify for the final.

In the men’s junior 1km time trial, Malaysia’s Muhammad Firdaus Modh Zonis established a new Asian record.

The results:

Men: Team sprint: 1. China; 2. Malaysia; 3. Japan

Women: 20km points race: 1. Wan Yiu Jamie Wong (Hkg) 41; 2. Minami Uwano (Jpn) 36; 3. Ju Pha Som Net (Mas) 29; 7. Mahitha Mohan (Ind) -13.

Junior: Men: 1km time trial: 1. Muhammad Firdaus Modh Zonis (Mas) 1:05.758s NMR (previous: 1:06.493, 2004); 2. Hyeon Seok Kim (Kor) 1:07.414; 3. Hayato Okamoto (Jpn) 1:07.683; 5. Alan Baby (Ind) 1:10.226.

Team sprint: 1. South Korea; 2. Malaysia; 3. Japan.

Women: 500m time trial: 1. Yeon Hee Jang (Kor) 37.159; 2. Yu Shiou Cheng (Tpe) 37.834; 3. Deborah (Ind) 37.841.

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