In India, Cycling is not a sport that has many fans, glittering leagues, or big Bollywood backers. But this has not stopped the sport from producing heroes that we could be proud of. Deborah Herold is one such hero.
Deborah was ranked fourth in the recent World Elite Women Ranking issued by UCI for the 500m Time Trial event. Not surprisingly, she is the first Indian to scale such heights in the sport. If we put this into a simpler context, Deborah is the fourth best cyclist in the world right now for the 500m Time Trial event. For a sport that rarely gets the limelight in India, this is indeed a big achievement. The best part is: she is just twenty years old. Unlike the average 20-year-old Indians who are stuck in Engineering or other ventures that their parents shove down their throats, Deborah went out and lived a dream despite the odds being stacked against her.
Fighting the odds and finding the dream
The sheer determination to overcome the odds was in Deborah’s resume from a younger age itself. She was just nine years old when Tsunami hit Port Blair in 2004. With nowhere to go, she had to stay on top of a tree until help arrived. The post-Tsunami days were filled with traumatic struggles. Once she got her life back on track, Deborah wanted to be a long-jumper. This dream, however, lived until she won a local cycling event. Her victory attracted attention from everywhere, and soon, she landed up in the Sports Authority of India centre in Andaman, where she realized that she was better suited to be a cyclist. Her career graph has been going in the upward direction ever since and now, she is ranked fourth in the world. While Deborah is well-placed in fourth, the Indian team is currently 13th in the World, two places ahead of China, and also is the highest ranked Asian team.
“I am happy that I am the first Indian cyclist to reach this stage, but I want to improve more. I aim to be No. 1. I would like to thank our federation and government for their continuous support. I am working hard to qualify for the Olympics now,” Deborah said.
The story of Deborah is not an isolated one. There are hundreds of similar sporting heroes who are scattered around the nation, heroes that make the nation proud without the help of any big leagues or the glamour world. Hopefully, Deborah’s dream to become World Number one will be realized, sooner or later.