Bhavani Devi books Tokyo 2020 ticket; Becomes first Indian fencer to qualify for Olympics
Her achievement will hand a major boost to fencing in India.
In a momentous feat, Bhavani Devi has become the first Indian fencer ever to qualify for the Olympics, after her ticket for Tokyo 2020 was confirmed on Sunday.
Bhavani Devi, a sabre fencer, was assured of qualification for the Tokyo Olympics which is set to begin on July 23, 2021, after Hungary lost in the quarter-finals of the team event and Korea progressed to the semifinals in the Fencing Sabre World Cup currently underway in Budapest.
This development assured her of a spot in the Olympics through the Adjusted Official Rankings (AOR) method.
Sabre fencing at Tokyo 2020 will have 34 individual spots, 24 of which will be filled by fencers from the teams that have qualified for the team event. Two of those 10 spots are allotted for Asian fencers and since the Korean fencers have just qualified through the team route, Bhavani Devi will qualify through that route.
She is currently ranked World No. 42 and fencers from China and Korea are placed higher than her. Bhavani and another fencer from Japan are currently the automatic choices for the two AOR spots from Asia. The rankings will be official on April 5, 2021.
She is currently training in Livorno, Italy, under coach Nicola Zanotti.
Her achievement will indeed be a major boost to fencing, a fledgeling sport in the country.
The Chennai-born sabreuse was introduced to the discipline at the school level in 2004. She has been a flagbearer for fencing in India and had just missed out on qualification for Rio 2016.
Her first major achievement in the sport came in the 2009 Commonwealth Championship held in Malaysia where she bagged bronze.
She has also clinched bronze medals at the 2010 International Open, 2010 Cadet Asian Championship, 2012 Commonwealth Championship, 2015 Under-23 Asian Championship and 2015 Flemish Open.
Devi was also the first Indian to bag a silver medal at the 2014 Asian Championship U23 category in Phillippines. Besides that, she also finished fifth in the Viking Cup 2016 Icelandic International Sabre Tournaments held at Reykjavik, and had made history by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal at the senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship in Canberra in the sabre event in 2019.