Fencer Bhavani Devi confident of securing Tokyo Olympics berth

If the Belgium event happens and her results are not enough, Bhavani Devi will have one more chance in the Asian continental qualifiers.

Bhavani Devi, ranked 45 in the world in the Sabre category, is now in the second spot in the Adjusted Official Rankings category. (File Photo)   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Indian fencer Bhavani Devi could have possibly sealed a place for the Tokyo Olympics had the scheduled World Cup event in Belgium gone ahead this weekend.

But the global Coronavirus pandemic meant the event was cancelled and the fencer got back to Chennai just in time before restrictions on travel from the European Union came into force.

Bhavani, ranked 45 in the world in the Sabre category, is now in the second spot in the Adjusted Official Rankings category from Asia with a fairly comfortable cushion over her closest competitor Aigerim Sarybay of Kazakhstan.

With most of the team ranking spots sealed, she is in a good position and a decent result in Belgium would have been enough.

Speaking to Sportstar, the Chennai-born fencer said, “If things are frozen here now, I will qualify for the Olympics, which will be a great feat. We don’t know when the tournaments will resume.”

If the Belgium event happens and her results are not enough, she will have one more chance in the Asian continental qualifiers that was supposed to be held in April.

The 26-year-old has been based out of Italy working under coach Nicola Zanotti in Livorno and was contemplating returning to base from Belgium where she was having a camp before the tournament. However, after Italy went into a lockdown she had no option but to return home even though the place she is based in is not affected much by the pandemic.

With very basic facilities for fencing in India, Bhavani has to focus on doing some fitness and rehab exercises until she is here.

“Right now I can't do much with everything shut till March 31 and I am isolating myself inside my house as a precaution. Also, I don't have enough sparring partners here with most of them only kids. I can focus on my fitness and some footwork practise but you can't do that for more than an hour.”

“It is not ideal preparation in an Olympic year but at the same time it is pretty much the same for every athlete across the world.”