Indian fencer Bhavani Devi is a true champion and role model for her sport. She spends most of the year training in France and only competes in India during the Nationals, but she is determined to make a difference for fencing in her home country. As the only Indian Olympian in fencing, Bhavani feels a sense of responsibility to promote the sport and set an example for others. She has won her 11th national championship title in sabre and wants to go further by winning medals at the Asian Games and other competitions. Bhavani has had the opportunity to train with some of the world’s best fencers in France, but she misses India during festivals and the community feeling of being surrounded by people. At the Nationals, Bhavani is a crowd favorite, with her technical skills and footwork standing out. She urges Indians to take a measured approach to sabre and attack with a plan. In addition to Bhavani’s success, 17-year-old Prachi Lohan from Haryana surprised herself by winning the epee gold despite having a knee injury.
Bhavani Devi – a shining star and an inspiration for Indian fencing She trains tirelessly in France all year long, and only comes back to India for the Nationals, where she dazzles everyone with her skills and spirit. Bhavani is not just a champion, but a leader who wants to uplift her sport in the country. She wears the red VIP pheta with pride, and motivates her fellow fencers at the Nationals to chase their dreams and stay focused. Then she switches to her warrior mode, as she steps on the main elevated piste, ready to attack, her blade hitting targets swiftly and reaching 8 points, then sprinting to 15, and clinching her 11th national championship title.
Bhavani Devi, Bhavani Devi fencingOne touch at a time: Bhavani Devi. (Photo Courtesy: Bhavani Devi) As the first and only Indian Olympian in fencing, Bhavani has taken up her role as the sole ambassador of her sport joyfully. She has not only set her eyes on an Asian Games medal, but also on the progress of her sport in the country, by doing things first and doing them right. “I feel a sense of duty towards Indian fencing,” she says at the Pune hotel where she’s staying. “I am so thankful for all the help I’ve received from India, and I want to set an example for others,” she says.
Bhavani’s stay in the city is brief, as she flies in from Paris one morning, and flies back two nights later after winning the individual gold in sabre, and also participating in the team event. But it’s what she has witnessed in France, where she trains now, that makes her come back for the Nationals every year.
“Fencing is just one of their many strengths. They have so many heroes. Recently, France won their most medals at the Worlds, and I was on the same flight with their team. There was no one at the airport to welcome them or to celebrate. They just got into taxis and went home. Compared to that, we are getting so much love and support just for being at the Olympics! We must make use of everything that’s been done for us and deliver results.”