The athlete scripted history as India’s firs participant in the sport at the Olympics, in Tokyo.

C.A. Bhavani Devi scripted history by becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics in the history of the Games. The 27-year-old began her campaign at the Tokyo Olympics with a stunning 15-3 win against Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi. In doing so, she became the first Indian to win a fencing match at the Olympics. However, she fell short 7-15 to the World No. 3 and Rio Olympic silver medalist Manon Brunet in the next round. 

In a virtual press conference organized by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bhavani Devi shared her experience at the Tokyo Olympics and her plans post the Olympics: 

The lesson learned from the Tokyo Olympics is to keep working hard 

“The one lesson I learned from Tokyo is to keep working hard. Because when I kept working hard after (2016) Rio, it brought me to Tokyo,” she stated. However, the sabre fencer also spoke about the improvements that she needs to make in her play. 

“I need to improve on fencing movements and strategies. I got good feedback from matches. I will continue to work hard and give much better results in future competitions than the previous ones,” she said. 

Experience at Tokyo Olympics

Bhavani Devi also expressed satisfaction with her performance at the Tokyo Olympics. “The first match was more important because it was the start. I was feeling a little bit nervous before the match. But, I started and finished well, also the second match was good for me. I don’t feel like I did not try, for me, I did try.”

Prime Minister’s message 

Despite a second-round exit at the Olympics, Bhavani Devi was encouraged to work harder after reading the PM’s message.

“I was upset after that match and when I saw his (PM’s) post, I am like how can a leader do something like this for one athlete, who lost the match. This is very important for me and also for all the athletes in our country.

“Winning and losing is part of the sport, you have to keep moving forward, but sometimes it is difficult to self-motivate to take that one step forward to continue the path. But, his message really encouraged and motivated me,” she added. 

Importance of moral support to athletes 

Bhavani Devi emphasized the impact moral support plays in an athlete’s performance. “First thing is, we need moral support. Because that’s what I lacked in the beginning. I never complained about financial or other problems. It is very important to have moral support in every competition.

“In my competition, World No. 1 (Olga Kharlan) lost in the first round, no one expected that. It is a very mental thing. You need to have a positive mindset. You have to feel good during the tournament. It is not just about technical or physical. The mental aspect is very important. You need very good support for that,” she said. 

More Indian fencers at 2024 Olympics 

With her impactful performance at the Tokyo Olympics, Bhavani Devi believes that her performance will help in the upliftment of Fencing in India. She said, “I am sure, in 2024, we will have more fencers. There are a lot of junior fencers in India who are doing really well.

“There are fencers from Army and SAI centres doing well. The fencing association president has assured us about opening training centres with high-class facilities. I think it will help us groom players for 2024 as well as 2028 Games.”

Notably, Bhavani’s focus now is to win a medal for the country irrespective of the event, be it Olympics, World Championships, or Asian Championships. 

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