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Bhavani Devi: First Indian Fencer to qualify for Olympics

Bhavani Devi from Chennai, Tamil Nadu becomes the first Indian to qualify for Olympics in fencing. Bhavani qualified for this year’s Tokyo Olympics by performing at the Fencing World Cup in Hungary. She would compete in the Saber category.

For Bhavani to win a chance in Tokyo Olympics, South Korea needed to finish in the top four of the team event of the World Cup in Budapest which would allow South Korea to be qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. This would in turn allow Bhavani to claim one of the two individual spots reserved for Asia & Oceania via Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR). No wonder Bhavani and her Italian coach Nicola Zanotti were tensed during the South Korea-Hungary quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon. With South Korea’s victory, Bhavani qualified for the Olympics.

It was not easy for a person from a middle-class family to train in a sport, not very popular in the country.  Bhavani Devi had to stay away from her home for a long period. She trained in fencing at the Thalassery  Sai Center after Class X. Later she went to Italy to train under Nicola Zanotti. She had won a bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Championships in the Philippines. The eight-time national champion had failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

27 years old Bhavani, is currently ranked 45th in the world. The pain she took and the effort she put in to pursue fencing, a regal sport with its origins in Europe, is commendable.

Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju congratulated Bhavani on her Olympic qualification.

Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.

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