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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Wishing Sabre fencer CA Bhavani Devi best of luck to win a medal in Tokyo Olympics 2020

Ever heard of - Yana Karapetovna Egorian and what would you remember on hearing ‘Sabre’ ?

You are more likely to sing to self ‘maha sena ….’ -   Mahasena – the mythical sword of Baahubali is first seen in red turmeric and then Mahendra Bahubali jumps to take it from the horse and behead Badra.     

A sabre is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods. Originally associated with Central European cavalry such as the hussars, the sabre became widespread in Western Europe in the Thirty Years' War. Lighter sabres also became popular with infantry of the early 17th century. In the 19th century, models with less curving blades became common and were also used by heavy cavalry. The military sabre was used as a duelling weapon in academic fencing in the 19th century, giving rise to a discipline of modern sabre fencing (introduced in the 1896 Summer Olympics) loosely based on the characteristics of the historical weapon in that it allows for cuts as well as thrusts.

Sabre fencer C. A. Bhavani Devi,  created history by becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics, said she was looking forward to giving off her best performance in Tokyo.  “It will be the first time when most of our country will watch fencing and me play. Will give my best performance,” she said at a media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).  By winning a quota through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) method after the Budapest World Cup in March, the 27-year-old from Chennai marked a major milestone in what has been a long journey since the time she had started training with bamboo sticks.

Competitive fencing consists of three primary disciplines, namely épée, foil, and sabre. All the events mandate that the fencer has to touch the opponent with their weapon in order to score a point. In épée and foil, the touches have to be made with the tip of the sword, where the entire body is the valid target for épée, while only the torso is the valid target for foil. For sabre, Bhavani’s weapon of choice, the scoring touches can be made with any part of the sword. The sabre is a shorter, lighter thrusting weapon that targets anywhere above the hips, excluding the hands, i.e; head, neck, arms, and torso. It also has a concept of “right of way”, where if both the fencers touch each other almost simultaneously, the one initiating the attack is awarded the point. Fencers have to wear protective clothing, including a jacket, plastron, gloves, breeches, masks, and also a lamé, which is a layer of the electrically conductive material used for the ease of scoring. 

The good news is Tamil Nadu’s CA Bhavani Devi has become the first-ever Indian fencer to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The sabre fencer secured a spot in the World Cup in Hungary after the hosts lost in the quarter-finals 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.  Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju congratulated Bhavani Devi on her qualifying for the Olympics. “Congratulations to Indian fencer Bhavani Devi who has qualified for Tokyo Olympics! She has become the 1st ever Indian fencer to achieve the feat. My best wishes to @IamBhavaniDevi,” he tweeted. The eight-time national champion had failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.  However, she stepped up efforts to secure qualification for the Tokyo games and continued to train in Italy under coach Nicola Zanotti before the Covid-19-induced shutdown halted the qualification process.

Born on 27th August in 1993 in Chennai, the exceptional fencing player Bhawani Devi is a name to reckon with. She has created history by becoming the first Indian women fencer to qualify for the Olympics. Bhawani Devi has lent a new identity to India in the discipline of fencing and has earned praise at the international level for her hardwork and gumption. Bhawani played her first international match in Turkey when she was merely 14.   The Indian fencing team won the silver medal in the Commonwealth Games 2009 in Malaysia, the international open 2010 in Thailand and cadet Asian Games 2010 in the Philippines. In 2012, Bhawani won her first individual Bronze medal in the Junior Commonwealth Championship at Jersey, whereas the team won the silver medal. In 2017 in Canberra Bhawani created history by winning the gold medal in the senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship and becoming the first Indian to do so.  

Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi  has come up the hard way.  She was born in Aug 1993   to CA Ramani and C Anandha Sundhararaman in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Ramani is a homemaker and Anandha Sundhararaman is a Temple priest. Bhavani is the fifth child of a middle-class family. She has two brothers and two elder sisters.   "My mother influenced me the most in my fencing career. She has been supportive and has faced lot of hardships, she said in an interview.

The  nation hopes that she will bring laurels in the Tokyo Olympics. The entire nation wishes all success to Bhawani Devi at the Tokyo Olympics.

Before concluding -  Yana Karapetovna Egorian mentioned at the start is a Russian left-handed sabre fencer, six-time team European champion, two-time team world champion, 2016 individual Olympic champion, and 2016 team Olympic champion.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th July 2021. 

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