India’s lone representative at fencing, Chadalavada Ananda Bhavani Devi has helped Sabre fencing get massive recognition in India with her heroics in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics 2020. She has certainly put Indian fencing on the Olympic map and inspired quite a few to take up the sport. We should not be surprised at all if we see parents standing in queues to get their child admitted in Sabre fencing training centers in the near future.
India’s Bhavani Devi, who had become the first Indian to qualify for fencing in the Olympics, on Monday created history by winning the fencing match against Tunisia’s Ben Ajizi Nadia. She has become the first athlete from India to win a fencing match in the history of the Olympics. 29th seed Bhavani Devi won the Women’s Individual Saber by a margin of 15-3 in just 6 minutes and 14 seconds at Makuhari Messe B Hall Yellow Piste.
India’s first Olympic fencer, Bhavani Devi’s dream Olympic debut came to an end after she lost the Round of 32 Sabre Individual to World no. 3 Manon Burnet 7-15. The defeat might have come early for Bhavani but she will undoubtedly be remembered as the pioneer of the sport in India. Years of struggle and hardwork has certainly worked in her favour.
Who is Bhavani Devi?
Bhavani Devi comes from a middle-class family in Chennai. She was born to Sundararaman, a temple priest, and CA Ramani, a housewife. In 2003, while she was in 6th standard, Bhavani was introduced to one of India’s least famous sports, fencing. Bhavani joined the Sports Authority of India Centre in Kerala’s Thalassery after completing her 10th boards where she was trained by coach Sagar Lagu.
It was not easy for Bhavani to afford super expensive training equipment for fencing as she hailed from a middle-class family. Just when she had almost quit the sport due to financial hardships and lack of funding, GoSports Foundation decided to back her by providing her a scholarship in the year 2015.
Bhavani Devi’s achievements
Bhavani Devi became the National Champion seven times between 2011-2018 after winning the Nationals championship for the first time in 2010. At the International Open in Thailand, she was crowned as a Bronze medal winner, which was also her first international individual medal in fencing. In 2014, she won her first international Gold medal at the Tuscany Cup in Italy. In 2017, Bhavani Devi became 1st Indian fencer to win a Gold medal in an international fencing event.
Bhavani Devi hit the spotlight in March 2020 at the Fencing World Cup in Hungary after she managed to become the first-ever India fencer to secure an Olympics berth.