The sabre fencer talked about her journey and the plans moving forward in a candid interview.
Bhavani Devi recently created history by becoming the first athlete to qualify for the Olympics in the sport of fencing. The 27-year-old will represent India at the 2020 Tokyo Games, scheduled to be held later this year, from 8 August 2021.
The postponement of the games due to the pandemic and the obstacles in preparation due to the lockdown has not been able to halt Bhavani Devi’s resolve. Speaking to the Times of India, she talked at length about various topics, ranging from her training, personal life and more.
Speaking about her initial reaction after the confirmation of her qualification, she revealed, “There was a sense of relief. It took me some time to realise that I have finally made the cut. This is reward for the hard yards I have put in, the effort that my coaches and support staff have put in, and for my mother who has been a pillar of support.”
She also went on to mention the crucial role her family has played in motivating her. She thanked them for sticking by her by saying that, “I am here because of my family. There are no two ways about it. Despite hailing from a middle-class background, my parents stood by me through thick and thin. My mother pawned her jewellery to fuel my ambition. They would borrow money to help me participate in competitions.”
“I have missed competitions when we failed to arrange for the money. I lost my father two years ago and I am missing him the most at this point of time.” Bhavani further added while lamenting the loss of her father.
The eight time national champion had been training with her coach from Italy, Nicola Zanotti. “Having worked with him for so long, we understand each other well. He made me realise my potential, the areas I could work and got the best out of me. He has changed my approach,” the fencer was quoted as saying in favor of her coach.
Bhavani Devi has quickly become a beacon of inspiration for not only the women but all aspiring athletes of the country, especially future fencers. “The sport is becoming popular with more and more fencers taking to it. For many years now, I have been the lone Indian representation in international fencing meets. I hope that scenario changes in the coming years.” she expressed in this context.
The athlete concluded by wishing that her accolades go on to bring more recognition for the sport of fencing in India. She said, “I will be the happiest if I am able to motivate youngsters to take up fencing. It is a fantastic sport that teaches you sharpness, agility and is extremely competitive.”