Olympics-bound fencer Bhavani Devi aims top show in Tokyo

By winning a quota through the Adjusted Official Ranking method after the Budapest World Cup in March, Bhavani Devi marked a major milestone in what has been a long journey.

Bhavani Devi

Bhavani Devi during the media interaction facilitated by SAI.   -  Special Arrangement

Sabre fencer C. A. Bhavani Devi, who created history by becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics, said she was looking forward to giving off her best performance in Tokyo.

“It will be the first time when most of our country will watch fencing and me play. Will give my best performance,” she said at a media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

By winning a quota through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) method after the Budapest World Cup in March, the 27-year-old from Chennai marked a major milestone in what has been a long journey since the time she had started training with bamboo sticks.

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Given the prevailing COVID-19 situation and with tournaments likely to get cancelled, Bhavani is hoping to continue training in Italy before departing for the Games from there. She also expects to receive the COVID-vaccination in Rome. “As of now, we don't have any competitions before Olympics, because almost all have been cancelled. We might have the Asian Championship, but it's likely to get cancelled."

"I will get vaccinated most probably next week. I'm thankful to SAI and the Indian Embassy in Rome and Fencing Association of India for helping me to get vaccinated here,” she added.

Inducted into the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in April, she will now be attending a three-week camp, where she will be training with the Italian national team.

Bhavani, whose late father was a priest and mother is a homemaker, is grateful for the support she has received from her parents at every step. “When my ranking wasn’t close to qualification standards, people used to ask why is she investing so much time in sport. She’s a woman, she could get education and think of getting some job. I didn’t get encouragement from outside. (However,) My mother and father told me to not worry.”

Bhavani also revealed she wanted to skip the qualifying tournament in March after her mother tested positive for COVID-19 during the qualifying tournament in Hungary.

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“Before the Budapest qualification, my mom was hospitalized, she was COVID positive and was admitted in hospital for two months. I wanted to visit her, but my mother told me from the hospital bed, ‘Don't worry, I'm okay, I'm active, I just need some rest, and I will come back home soon, just focus on you game’,” she said from Italy where she is currently training.

The Mission Olympic Cell has sanctioned Rs 19.28 lakh towards Bhavani's coaching fee till the Olympics and purchase of specialised equipment.

(With inputs from PTI)

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