On 14th March Bhavani Devi,27, made history by becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. Thus, securing a slot through the Asia/Oceania Zone of the official rankings. After the Sabre Fencing World Cup quarter-finals lost by Hungary to South Korea. Also, in 2017 at the Women’s World Cup satellite tournament in Iceland, she became India’s first international gold medalist in fencing.

She faced a lot of financial issues in her making as a fencer. Moreover, she fluctuated about her father’s income in school. As her teacher told that fencing is a very expensive sport. “I realized why the teacher asked me about my father’s annual income because the equipment was very costly and I had to practice with bamboo sticks. The swords had to be saved only for the competition since I can’t afford to break them,” said Bhavani.

In her initial years, she witnessed a constant battle for finding sponsors and travel funds, constant equipment changes, and coaching. Thus, the GoSports program gave a solution to her lot of troubles. Mainly the Rahul Dravid Mentorship Programme that challenged the GoSports team to pick up sports that were not mainstream. Also had more girls playing as well as dominating at the national level. Thus, ending up picking up gymnasts Dipa Karmakar and Bhavani as part of that mentorship programme.

How did she choose sports fencing?

Bhavani playing fencing


As a matter of chance Bhavani first chose sports. “I didn’t actually choose to fence. I just wanted to play a sport as I wanted to do something other than staying in class. There were five sports in my school that I could take part in, but by the time I went to enroll my name, fencing was the only sport that had a vacancy. The sport gave me a lot of happiness and that is why I continued playing it,” she says.

How did lockdown affect Bhavani?


Though the Tokyo Olympics were only a few months away and went through the fear of cancellation from last year. Despite this, she restarted her hard work in lockdown. She focused on the technical aspects of her game and maintain a steady level of fitness while recovering from past injuries.

“During the lockdown, my priority was maintaining the same form and keeping up my fitness levels. We tried to improve some technical skills with the saber as well as my footwork. But I didn’t have partners during the period and had to work with dummies. We tried to do our best to improve but I was good at maintaining my form and fitness level. I also recovered from a back injury which I had a few months before lockdown.”


Kritika Agarwal

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