Who’s Bhavani Devi? India’s first ever fencer to reach Olympics
In a country where cricket is a religion, it’s difficult for other sports like basketball and hockey to make a place for themselves let alone chess and gymnastics. But fencing is far fetched even in this aspect. CA Bhavani Devi became the first ever Indian fencer to qualify for Olympics, and looking at how fledgling this sport is in this country of over a 100 billion people, you can imagine how big an achievement this is.
The Indian gal
Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararamana Bhavani Devi was born on August 27, 1993 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her father is a temple priest while her mother is a homemaker. She was drawn to fencing at the age of 9. And joined the SAI (Sports Authority of India) Centre in Thalassery in Kerala, to further work on her skills.
Of many firsts
Devi is not only the first Indian fencer to book an Olympics berth but she was the first Indian to bag a silver medal at the 2014 Asian Championship U23 category in Philippines and also etched her name in history by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal at the senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship in Canberra in the sabre event in 2019. But it all started at the international level in the 2009 Commonwealth Championship held in Malaysia where she bagged bronze. Later, she also clinched bronze in events such as the 2010 International Open, 2010 Cadet Asian Championship, 2012 Commonwealth Championship, 2015 Under-23 Asian Championship and 2015 Flemish Open to emerge as the premier Indian sabreuse.
The Olympic berth
The sabre fencer secured a spot in the World Cup in Hungary after the hosts lost in the quarterfinals of the team event, allowing South Korea to progress to the semi-final. Bhavani Devi qualifies through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) Method. Two individual spots were up for grabs for the Asia and Oceania region based on the World Rankings as of April 5, 2021. She is ranked 45th and occupies one of the two available slots based on the ranking.