Bhavani Devi interacts with students from 75 schools in Chennai

The Olympian's interaction with school students was part of the Meet The Champion initiative by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Education.

Bhavani Devi with the students at the MCC Higher Secondary school Chetpet, in Chennai on Friday.   -  R. RAVINDRAN

At least 800 students and teachers gave a standing ovation to the only Indian fencer, Bhavani Devi, who participated in the Tokyo Olympics. On Friday at the MCC Higher Secondary School, she interacted with students from across 75 schools as part of the Meet The Champion initiative by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Education.

Tracing her journey to becoming an Olympian, the 28-year-old discussed the importance of discipline, punctuality and hard work.

She threw light on her new coach Christian Bauer and the difference he made in recent times. “My training, coach and living environment has changed. I have a nice understanding with him as I had with Nicola (previous coach). He is a taskmaster, perfectionist and teaches tough techniques. I am focusing on improving my techniques and strategies and will try to implement them in the upcoming tournaments,” said Bhavani during the media interaction on Friday.

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While training with Bauer in France, Bhavani had the opportunity to practice with the Chinese women’s fencing team, who had also come to train under him. She observed the Korean and Chinese opponents in Asian fencing from close quarters. “Koreans are good in speed, while Chinese have experience, a strong base and are very confident," said Bhavani, who finished 23rd out of 166 participants in the women’s individual Sabre event of the FIE World Cup. She also won gold in the national championships in Amritsar.

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Currently preparing for the Fencing World Cup in Tunisia and Fencing Grand Prix in Egypt, Bhavani hopes to implement the techniques taught by Bauer.
 
The Olympian also talked about her diet, which is one of the highlights of the initiative. She has oats, eggs and fruits for breakfast, fruits and nuts for snacks, while her lunch and dinner mainly consists of rice, pasta, vegetables, proteins and fruits.

Encouraging students to participate in sports and fight back despite losing matches, the 28-year-old fencer said, “Every competition is tough, you have to perform and work hard. Failures and success are a part of sports. One must set short term and long-term goals and strive hard to achieve them.”

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