New Delhi: Indian cyclists justified their favourites tag for the 2019 edition of the Track Asia Cup, at least on the opening day of the competition, with a haul of 12 medals.
As many as four of those medals were gold, as the hosts put up a dominant display at the velodrome at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
Esow Alben and Deborah Herold were some of the star Indian names in action on Day 1, and met expectations by finding a place on the podium in the Men's Elite and Women's Elite Team Sprint events.
Herold and Aleena Reji won bronze in the women's elite team sprint event on Monday. However, if the native of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is to be believed, then the duo are more than happy to have placed third on the podium.
"We didn’t have any hope of winning bronze before the finals. We were third when we qualified, and thought we’d probably finish fourth in the final race.
"My partner (Reji) suffered a bit of a malfunction at the start of the finals, and it had to be restarted. However, after the restart, we somehow found confidence, and were able to set our sights on winning a medal in the event," said Herold, the the first Indian to participate in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Herold, in fact, hadn't even been preparing for the team sprint event in the first place. She had been practicing for other disciplines of the sport such as omnium and keirin, which she plans to focus on after the Track Asia Cup.
"We hadn’t been practicing for the sprint event for the last four-five months. We were hardly prepared for the team sprint event. We have instead been focusing on team pursuit, omnium, etc," added Herold, who will next set her sights on the Asian Championships in Korea taking place in October.
Alben, who was part of the gold-winning quartet in team sprint at the World Junior Championships last month, managed to finish third along with Jemsh Singh and Sandeep Kumar in the men's elite team sprint event, in which Thailand and Kazakhstan won gold and silver respectively.
This was Alben's second medal in a senior event, and the rising star is happy with his transition from one level to another.
"If we are giving our best, then the transition process won’t be much of a factor. If riders elsewhere can do it, so can I. This is my second bronze at the senior level. Feels really good.
"The challenge in the senior level is a different ball-game altogether though. The seniors undergo a lot more training and are a lot more experienced," said Alben, also a native of Andaman and Nicobar.
Alben, however, felt that India's performance in the men's elite team sprint event could've been better, something that they will achieve with the right training and process.
"Good, but wasn’t the best of performances in my opinion. But I’m sure the way we’re training and the process we’re following at the moment, that our performances will only get better down the road. We are happy with this medal though," added Alben, who dedicated this medal to his coach RK Sharma.
Ronaldo Laitonjam, also a member of the gold-winning Indian team at the junior worlds event alongside Alben, was one of the top performers of the day with two gold medals — in the men's junior team sprint and the men's junior 1 km time trial events respectively.
India also won gold in the women's junior team sprint event, represented by Triyasha Paul and Nikita Nisha. Paul and Nisha then collected gold and silver respectively in the women's junior time trial event.
The sixth edition of the Track Asia Cycling Cup will take place between 9 and 11 September, with as many as 150 countries from 16 different nations — including European countries Latvia and Slovakia — taking part in the UCI Class I-accredited event.
Updated Date: Sep 10, 2019 09:23:57 IST