~ Jiah Bhutani
Fencing was unheard of in India until the Tokyo Olympics threw it into the limelight. And credit goes to Bhavani Devi for making it possible. Bhavani is the first Indian fencer ever to qualify for the Olympics. Her story deserves our attention. Let’s get to know about her.
Who Is Bhavani Devi?
C.A Bhavani Devi was born on 27 August, 1993 into a middle-class family in Chennai. The discovery of the sport was accidental to her. She recalls being given a choice to select any of the four sports offered at school. However, fate played its part and by the time her turn came, the only sport left was fencing. Being utterly oblivious to the sport in the beginning, she soon found herself fascinated by fencing when it barely had any existence in India.
She rapidly developed a desire to continue playing this sport for which she had to lie about her family’s income. Funding for the exorbitant prices of the fencing equipment made the journey difficult for Bhavani Devi as well as for her family. After passing the tenth standard, she moved to Kerala under the coaching of Sagar Lagu to join Sports Authority of India(SAI). The language barrier tried to hold her back. She was not acquainted with Malayalam. But Bhavani sailed through, even at such a young age.
Beginning Of The International Career
Bhavani Devi started her international career by winning a Bronze medal at the 2009 Commonwealth Championship held in Malaysia.
She secured podium finishes in 2010 International Open, Thailand; 2010 Cadet Asian Championship, Philippines; 2012 Commonwealth Championship, Jersey; 2015 Under-23 Asian Championship, Mongolia, and 2015 Flemish Open.
In the 2014 Asian Championship under 23 categories in the Philippines, she bagged the Silver medal becoming the first Indian to do so. But due to lack of financial support, she almost decided to quit the game. But fortunately, the GoSports Foundation assisted her to embark on her passion to compete in the Olympics. She went on to establish a legacy in 2017 by bringing India’s first international gold medal at the Women’s World Cup in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Peformance In Tokyo Olympics 2020
Bhavani Devi began with a thrashing win of 15-3 against the Tunisian player Nadia Ben Azizi in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The Indians who woke up at 5:30 am to cheer for her were brimming with pride. Bhavani created history by not only qualifying but even winning her first match at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
However, next in line was the World No. 3 Manon Brunet. The Frenchwoman took an early lead in the match. But Bhavani did not flinch and continued to fight with grace. The final score registered Bhavani’s graceful defeat of 7-15.
Despite not being able to make it, Bhavani Devi made us proud. Her efforts will always be remembered. She has come back to India with lots of lessons. We must continue to support her and fencing. The Paris Olympics may bring another glory to India.