Exclusive Interview: Fencer Bhavani Devi Confident Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

As we inch closer to the Tokyo Olympics, all eyes will be on the Indian contingent representing the tricolour on the world stage. Among those is CA Bhavani Devi, India’s first-ever fencer to qualify for the Olympics. The 27-year-old from Tamil Nadu has excelled in this sport which is arguably not among the top choices for young athletes in India. Her journey has been challenging yet fulfilling – one that has constantly tested her temperament, and as a result, fortified her along the way. 

With just over three months left for the big event, we caught up with Bhavani Devi to discuss her journey, preparations for the Olympic Games, the future of Fencing and more. 

A fortnight ago you received the news about qualifying for the Olympics. Has it sunk in yet? How does it feel? 

For the first few minutes, I was in shock. I cannot explain those feelings in words. In my mind, I started revisiting the journey I have had in the last 15 years. I had worked for this moment all my life and it had finally happened. I felt really happy and am thankful to all the people who have helped me reach where I am today. 

Also, I am aware that it’s not over yet. This is just the beginning of another phase in my career and for the Fencing fraternity in India. This gives me great confidence and pushes me to work hard for the Tokyo Olympics. 

How do you plan to prepare ahead of what will be the biggest tournament yet in your life?

I have been training in Italy with my coach Nicolas for the last few years and I will soon go back there and continue my training for the Olympic Games. I had a word with my coach and asked him whether there will be any big change in training ahead of the Olympic Games. He said there won’t be as he feels I’m ready for the tournament. We just need to maintain the form and of course, we need to improve certain techniques and work on some actions but there won’t be any big changes. We will just be working on some strategies.  

How does the future of Fencing look in India? Can we expect more Bhavani Devi’s to emerge?

We have a bright future because now Fencing has been recognised by many people in the country. Everyone is talking about Fencing and I’m sure more and more students will take it up as a career. Earlier, most would only play the sport at the school level but now I am confident that they will take it up professionally. I hope we will see more fencers emerging from our country who would achieve much more than Bhavani Devi.

You have fought against all odds to be where you are today. Your advice to young, budding sportspersons in our country?

There are obstacles everywhere no matter what field you’re in. However, if you focus on your goal and how you want to reach there, you will be able to overcome these obstacles. Just focus on your objective and work towards it with sincere effort and give your hundred percent every day to reach there and the result will come.

The Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to begin on 23 July 2021 and conclude on 8 August 2021. 

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