Bhavani Devi’s sojourn: From an accidental fencer to India’s first | Tokyo Olympics News – Eagles Vine

CHENNAI: Bhavani Devi is the first Indian fencer ever to qualify for Olympics, but her entry into the sport way back in her school days was “accidental”.
During her days at Muruga Dhanushkodi Girls School — at Tondiarpet back in 2004 — Bhavani took up fencing because there was no vacancy in other disciplines. When Bhavani enrolled for fencing, she was alerted by her teachers that it was a costly affair, but she was ready to take the plunge.
“My teachers said it was an expensive sport and you won’t be able to afford it even if you came from a well-to-do family. I lied about how much my father earned those days because I wanted to get into this sport,” revealed Bhavani, who made the Olympics cut in March. The monetary aspect soon hit Bhavani as she tried to make a mark. “We would train with bamboo in school. The swords were used only during competitions because if it broke — replacing it was tough as we had to import it. The sword and the attire were expensive,” she said.
Despite hailing from a family with modest means, Bhavani’s parents — father C Sundararamana was a priest and mother Ramani a housewife — never stopped Bhavani from chasing her dreams. “From taking loans to pawning jewellery — my parents have done everything possible to keep me going in this sport. The one person I miss the most at this point of time is my father who passed away in 2019,” said Bhavani, who will be featuring in the women’s sabre event.
Things were far from rosy for Bhavani in 2016 who missed the Rio Games. “I was putting a lot of pressure on myself at that point and it affected my results. I understood the importance of staying in the moment. Once I began to win medals, my confidence level shot up,” she said. Bhavani’s career got a shot in the arm when she won gold at the Women’s World Cup satellite tournament in Iceland in 2017. A year later, Bhavani became the first Indian to pocket gold at the Commonwealth Championships held in Australia. Bhavani, who will reach Tokyo on July 20, has been tuning up for the big event by training with the Italian national fencing team in Rome and was also part of a camp in France. “The preparations have been top-notch but it will all come down to execution at the Olympics. Not only have I worked on all aspects of the game but also made sure I am in the best possible shape mentally,” she said.
In a bid to stay extra motivated, Bhavani also got herself inked last month. “I got a tattoo — of the five interlocking rings of the Olympics — on my left hand. I don’t cover my left-hand during matches as I make use of my right hand for sparring. The tattoo reminds me of my goal and the importance this event has in my life,” she revealed. There will be no dearth of support for Bhavani who will be accompanied by her mother in Tokyo. “Her support will help me to go the extra mile,” said Bhavani.

The Times of India

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