Women who inspire us: Bhavani Devi

Taking up a sport like fencing that has no local role models can be difficult, but Bhavani Devi is determined to become the standard she never had.

From taking to the sword to bunk classes, to becoming one of India's brightest hopes for Tokyo 2Olympics 2020, Bhavani Devi's success story is special.

Ask sabre fencer C.A.Bhavani Devi why she took up the this sport in particular and a rather simple story is told in return.

When she was younger, Bhavani loved participating in sport. On one particular day, squash and fencing lessons were scheduled at the same time. Bhavani had the choice to either take the bus going to the squash court or the one heading to fencing hall. She chose the latter and the rest, as they say, is history.

For someone who, at one point, liked escaping to spar just so she could miss lessons, Bhavani has evolved into an ardent student of the discipline. As things stand now, the Chennai-born fencer is just a few steps away from securing a Tokyo Olympics berth, the first Indian fencer to do so if she manages to.

The 26-year-old is not new to the rigours of the qualification process having done this before in 2015. She did not qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016 and contemplate quitting the sport then. She's put the disappointment past her now and has time only to focus on the task in hand.

Fencing is a niche sport, more so in India  - meaning sponsorships and facilities are not as easy to come by. At one point, Bhavani's parents took loans and sold much of their valuables to fund her training in the United States of America. She currently trains in Italy though, under Nicola Zanotti. Recognition by GoSports Foundation and the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme helped Bhavani in finding regimen that suited her style of play and qualification requirements.

Currently ranked 44th in the world, Bhavani is all set to qualify through the Adjusted Official Ranking based on standings that will be released in early April.