India’s first athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 in fencing, and also the first fencer from the country to win a gold at the Commonwealth Championships in 2018, has another big win to her name. Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi, better known simply as Bhavani Devi, has won the coveted gold at the Commonwealth Fencing Championship 2022!
Fighting in the senior women’s sabre individual category, Bhavani first received a bye in the opening round, and went on to face Alexandra David in the next round. She won the match 15-6 to advance to the championship semi-finals. Then came Lucy Higham of Scotland, and Bhavani won by a comfortable margin of 15-5. In the final match, she took down Australia’s Veronika Vasileva with a splendid 15-10.
Bhavani is an eight-time national champion and Arjuna Award winner. The Indian sabre fencer did her schooling from Muruga Dhanushkodi Girls Higher Secondary, Chennai and then attended the St. Joseph’s College of Engineering, Chennai. She also pursued Business Administration from Government Brennen College in Thalassery, Kerala. Bhavani’s sports career started when she was introduced to fencing in 2004 at school level. After finishing her class 10, she joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Thalassery. She participated in her first international tournament when she was just 14 years old, but was disqualified for being late by three minutes. She went on to win medals at the 2009 Commonwealth Championship, Malaysia; 2010 Asian Championship, Philippines; 2010 International Open, Thailand; 2012 Commonwealth Championship; 2014 Asian Championship Under-23 category, Philippines; 2015 Under-23 Asian Championship, Mongolia; Flemish Open in 2015; 2019 Tournoi Satellite Fencing Competition, Belgium, and many more.
Bhavani, who trains in Italy as well as at the SAI in Thalassery, has seen many ups and downs in her career. In an interview with Femina, she had recalled how ecstatic she was the moment her qualification for the 2020 Olympics was announced. “To become the first Indian Olympian fencer has been a dream since childhood. It has taken many years of hard work, not just for me, but also for my family, well-wishers, sponsors, and supporters to reach this stage.” Speaking of her gold medal win at the last Commonwealth Games, she had said that these achievements were very special to her and that her years of hard work and sacrifices had finally paid off.
Bhavani will continue to fine tune her techniques in the sport. The champion fencer knows that fencing has not received its due, but believes that her wins, along with the Olympic qualification, have inspired young sportspersons to take up this sport seriously. From training with bamboo sticks and saving a little from each competition to buy sports equipment one piece at a time, Bhavani has certainly come a long way, overcoming all struggles in her life and being a source of inspiration for us all. We wish her all the success for the years to come.
Also read: Judoka Shushila Devi Wins Silver For India At 2022 Commonwealth Games
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