Chennai: After becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics, Bhavani Devi is confident that more players will take up fencing as a career in the near future and the sport will see more participation from women.
The 27-year-old has qualified for the Olympics through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) method. Bhavani pointed out the struggles she faced during the initial years and credited her family for the constant support which helped her overcome every obstacle.
“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 told 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,” she added.
Last week, Bhavani stormed into the semifinals of the Women’s Sabre Individual competition in the 31st Senior National Fencing Championships at the Delhi Public School.
Bhavani hopes to see more women take sports as a career in India. She highlighted how PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, and PT Usha have changed the landscape for women in sports but added that still, the participation from women is less.
“When I started there were many students but I was the only one who continued the fencing path and all credit goes to my family as they never said no to fencing. They understood the passion I had for this sport,” Bhavani said.
“Sports is still India considered as men carriers and not for female. Now it’s slowly getting changed after the achievements of P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal P.T USHA, etc but still, the numbers are less. I am sure now on women will take sports as a carrier,” she added.
Bhavani also said the Tamil Nadu scholarship (sports) scheme benefited her in achieving the dream.
“In Tamil Nadu, we have a scholarship scheme to prepare for the Olympics. In 2016, I was selected for this scheme. I was happy that they choose an athlete for fencing. It clearly shows the government is keen on developing women in sports,” said Bhavani.
“I am thankful to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju last week, he congratulated me for qualifying for the Olympics. He said, they included fencing in priority games two years ago and he was very happy that after the inclusion we got the result,” she signed off.