Bhavani Devi's name has been etched in the history books as the first Indian fencer who is going to represent her country at the Tokyo Olympics this year and to commemorate such an achievement, the Indian Fencing Association felicitated the sabre fencer in Bhubaneshwar.
Bhavani Devi, who is a Commonwealth and Asian Championships silver medallist, earned her quota for the grand quadrennial showpiece event through via Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR), clinching one of the two individual spots that were reserved for Asia & Oceania after South Korea finished in the top four of the team event of the Budapest Sabre World Cup.
Bhavani Devi, who hails from Tamil Nadu, is currently studying in Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) in Bhubaneshwar and was felicitated by the governing body of the sport in the country on the premises of KIIT and KISS (Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences).
The felicitation program saw the presence of KIIT founder Dr Achyuta Samanta, Indian Fencing Association general secretary Bashir A Khan, Odisha Fencing Association secretary Debendra Sahoo as well as Indian sprinting icon and two-time Asian games bronze medallist Dutee Chand.
“I have been dreaming of participating in the Olympics. To gratify that dream, I had to face a lot of struggles and adversities”, said Bhavani on the occasion of her felicitation, while addressing Dutee as her inspiration behind securing an Olympic quota.
Bhavani Devi hopes her success story will inspire more women to take up sports in India
While Bhavani Devi's name shines in the Indian sports fraternity, her path to success has not been a smooth one. However, support from her family helped her overcome the struggles and reach success, as she revealed the same following the confirmation of her journey to the Japanese capital later this year, while also appreciating Sports Authority of India, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and Ministry of Sports for aiding the sport of fencing in the country.
"I am happy to become the first Indian and woman to qualify for the Olympic games in fencing. There had been a lot of struggle in the beginning but since I had faced a lot of obstacles and had overcome those with the help of my family, I started getting support from different sources, and with the help from their support, I could achieve this. It's not a result of Bhavani. It's a result for the whole fencing community," Bhavani said in an interview with ANI, "Sports Authority of India, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and Ministry of Sports, and now everyone is supporting fencing. Fencing is been included in priority sports. I am sure from now onwards more people will take up fencing as a career."
The Indian sports scene has observed the rise of many women athletes in different branches, from the days of PT Usha and Anju Bobby George, to the inspirational stories of MC Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, they have been the idols and inspirations for many budding sportswomen of the country. Now Bhavani herself wishes that her own historic trait serves the same notion.
"When I started, there were many students, but I was the only one who continued on the fencing path, and all credit goes to my family as they never said no to fencing," Bhavani went on, "they understood the passion I had for this sport."
"Sports in India is still considered as a career for men and not for women. Now it's slowly changing. I am sure from now on, women will take up sports as a career," she acknowledged.
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