Tamil Nadu’s CA Bhavani Devi becomes the first Indian fencer to have ever qualified for an Olympic event. She was able to secure a spot for Tokyo Olympics 2020 due to recent developments in the World Cup hosted by Hungary. Bhavani is currently ranked at 45 and qualified through the method of Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR). She was able to grab one of the two slots available for the Asia and Oceania regions based on the World Rankings as of April 5, 2021.
Devi’s qualification will be validated after the official rankings are updated in April. The Sabre World Cup was the first major international fencing event since the pandemic, which was held behind closed doors.
The 27-year-old fencer will be the only representative for India in fencing during Olympics at Tokyo later this year. She has won several international awards at multiple international fencing events. Devi has also been an eight-time national champion (now nine), but failed to make it to the Rio Olympics. Nevertheless, her perseverance and dedication to train and improve under her Italian coach Nicola Zanotti led her to the path of the Tokyo Olympics qualification. Devi explained her perseverance and effort in last year to ESPN after booking the ticket to Tokyo.
“We were in the playing hall… I was telling myself if this opportunity slips away, I still have one last qualification event [continental qualifiers in Seoul. The next thing I knew, I was weeping and my coach was hugging me tight. South Korea had won. I had been waiting for this moment all my life. Through all of last year, especially the lockdown, I carried it within me, holding on to this hope. Finally, I feel free.”
Bhavani is aware of the fact that the Olympics aren’t easy and there are great expectations from her, making it an even more daunting task. In order to progress ahead in the Tokyo Olympics, she needs to eradicate weakness in her game. Devi will have three months to complete final preparations for the big tournament with Tokyo Olympics kicking off on July 23.