Bhavani Devi, Indian sabre fencer, has won her maiden gold medal in the sabre event of the Women’s Satellite Fencing Championship held in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was Bhavani’s as well as India’s first gold at an international fencing event.
Fencing, also called Olympic fencing, is a sport in which two competitors fight using ‘rapier-style’ swords, winning points by making contact with their opponent. It is based on the traditional skills of swordsmanship and arose as a modern sport at the end of 19th century.
23 year old Bhavani Devi hails from a middle-class family in Chennai. Her father is a retired priest and mother a homemaker. Arranging for funds to buy gear and follow her dreams has always been a challenge, but this didn’t deter Bhavani. “The sword and protective gear in this sport cost well over a lakh. If the gear has a small tear, one needs to get it replaced or risk being disqualified from the competition. To travel for competitions abroad, we have had to arrange money which has been quite taxing. On many occasions, lack of funds meant Bhavani had to forego competitions,” Bhavani’s mother Ramani told Times Of India.
She started fencing in 2004. She played at her first international event in Turkey at the age of 14 and won her first medal – a bronze – in the Commonwealth Championships 2009.
She was quite happy with her performance at the Satellite Championship and said, “I am extremely delighted with this medal. It means a lot to me considering it is my third attempt at a Satellite Tournament. It was a tough route to the final, beating Chile in the quarter-finals and Great Britain in the semi-finals was not an easy task. I am glad to have overcome this barrier and won the gold.”
Her plate is already full. She is currently in Moscow for the next Fencing Grand Prix to be held between June 2-June 5.
Immediately after her event, she will be travelling to Hong Kong to compete at the 2017 Asian Fencing Championships, between June 15 to June 20. She aims to come back with a top 4 finish from her event in Hong Kong.