New Delhi: Manorama Devi and Deborah clinched a silver medal each to register India`s best-ever performance in a cycling competition, at the Hero Asian Cycling Championships here.
Manorama, who won silver in the Keirin`s race, lifted the Indian spirits after Deborah`s fighting loss to Korea rider earlier in the day.
Both Manorama and Deborah were in contention in the eight-lap long Keirin race, but it was Manorama who mesmerised the Indian fans at the IG stadium`s velodrome with her a resolute run in the last 50 metres.
The 16-year-old cyclist rallied from the fifth spot to achieve her second podium finish in the event.
"I was looking for space to go ahead. The strategy was to stay as close as possible to other riders. Fortunately, I got an opening in the last 50 metres from the left-hand side and I gave it my all," a jubilant Manorama told reporters.
Manorama fell short by just 0.131 seconds to Yu Shiou Cheng of Chinese Taipei, who won the gold, while the bronze went to Korea`s Yeonhee Jang.
Deborah, however, finished last in the six-rider race as she was blocked by the Koreans.
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," team coach Rumi Chatterjee said.
"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," she said.
Also, in medal contention were Indian quartet of Manorama Devi, Geeturaj N, Jashanjit Kaur but they were comprehensively beaten by Kazakhstan and lost out on the bronze.
Their race was stopped by the officials as they were overlapped by the Kazaks.
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 yesterday had won a bronze in the team sprint event after the former had open India`s account by clinching a bronze in the 500 metre time trial on the opening day of the championships.
The action of the 33rd Senior and 20th Junior cycling championships will now head to Buddh International Circuit where the road races will take place from March 13.
First Published: Monday, March 11, 2013, 20:41