CHENNAI: One would probably feel more than a tinge of irony after hearing Deborah Herolt’s current caller-tune — Bhar Do Jholi — from the Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The chorus of the song has the translation: “Fill my bag, O Mohammed. For I won’t go back empty-handed.”
And the 20-year-old cyclist has definitely not returned empty-handed from most of the tournaments she has been part of. Deborah’s recent podium exploits fetched five medals at the Taiwan Cup Track International Classic, which included a gold in women’s elite sprint category — a first for the nation. She also got agonisingly close to another gold in the keirin event, being pipped to the first spot after a photo finish.
“My chief coach RK Sharma and I were there for the event. It was a good outing and quite fulfilling. I’m happy with my performance,” Deborah told Express.
With her preparations for the Track Asia Cup in full swing, Deborah is hopeful of making her silverware cabinet bulge a little more.
“To be honest, I am scared of the Koreans. But I’m not viewing them as a big threat. I have faith in myself to get four more gold medals, just like last time,” she remarked in her broken-yet-laden-with-gumption Hindi.
Before the Andaman native went about her laurel-winning ways, she and her family braved the Tsunami that struck the island 11 years ago. The then nine-year-old had to spend close to 10 days atop a tree. “Mom woke me up for praying. That’s when I felt the tremors. Then, the water came. We had to leave. My memory is a bit hazy since I was quite young, but spending 10 days on a tree was harrowing.”
Velodromes weren’t the only sporting venues where Deborah had her moments in the limelight. During school days, she spent time collecting track-and-field trophies. “I was into sprinting, long jump and high jump. I got bored of winning gold in those events and moved on to cycling,” she quips. “On a more serious note, watching cycling events on television was a definite motivator. I still prefer viewing videos of my competitors.”
Deborah feels the fruition of her dreams is still in the pipeline. “I should be able to qualify. I will be heading to Switzerland after this to train for a month. Then, there’s the Asian Championships and World Cup. I’d rather be looking at 2020 as a more realistic target for myself.”