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Deborah Herold aims to clinch a medal at 2024 Olympics for her father-like mentor Ranjit Kumar

Deborah Herold aims to clinch a medal at 2024 Olympics for her father-like mentor Ranjit Kumar

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Published: 11 Jun 2019 8:15 AM GMT
Indian cyclist Deborah Herold has been out of any international action since 2017 owing to her knee injury. Furthermore, she recently part ways with her long-time Indian coach R K Sharma. Under the guidance of the new coach V K Singh, Deborah has been adapting to a set of technical changes, ushering a transition. In 2017, she had won three silver medals at the Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The 24-year-old continues to ride her cycle and spends two-three hours every day on the velodrome at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi. Deborah has witnessed struggle from close quarters and had to withstand her tragic fate. In 2004, the terrifying Tsunami that rocked parts of South-East Asia, washed away her entire village when she had to spend four days stranded on a tree branch. While speaking to The Bridge from New Delhi over the phone, Deborah drew light on her inspiration.
“Two people have played significant roles in my life and have inspired me to achieve more. One is Ranjit Kumar, the coach at Port Blair. During the months after the Tsunami, he was the man who looked after me. His care and affection were the same as I had from my parents. While leaving Port Blair for New Delhi in 2011, I promised him one day I will return and stand in front of him with an Olympic medal."
She adds:
"Another lady has been my inspiration - Olympics and World champion cyclist, Germany’s Kristina Vogel. She also lost all her strength in her legs following a severe head-on collision with another Dutch cyclist. When she first appeared in front of the public on a wheelchair, she commented, it is better than being dead! Now, I also put out the same statement whenever I am asked about the Tsunami episode. It was better than being dead.”
Kristina’s fight and endeavour to return to cycling has always been Deborah’s motivation. Deborah has still preserved the cycle her father used to ride. At school, she was thriving in sports like high jump and long jump. One day she had to compete in a cycling race in the school following requests from her teacher. She surprised everyone and finished first, riding on her father’s cycle. This trophy changed Deborah’s perceptions and she gradually became obsessed with cycling. Deborah overcame another terrible pain when one of her mentors, Ruma Chatterjee, was killed in a tragic accident in 2013. Her present coach V K Singh might be correct in assessing Deborah when he commented,
“Deborah’s mental strength is her weapon. She is simply indomitable.”
Deborah's story received the limelight after she broke into the top 5 rankings in world cycling. She has also won several laurels at the Asian Championships. But the star cyclist is not sure about bagging medals in the forthcoming Asian Championship in October owing to her knee injury. Even her aim to earn a silverware at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has deferred to four more years to 2024 Olympics. Deborah confesses,
“By 2024 I must regain my old touch and bring medals. I will have to show it to Ranjit Kumar.”
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