CA Bhavani Devi on Sunday created history when she became the first ever Indian fencer to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The sabre fencer secured a spot through the World Cup in Hungary after the hosts lost in the quarterfinals of the team event, allowing South Korea to progress to the semi-final. As a result, Bhavani Devi qualified through the Adjusted Official Ranking method.
The names of all the athletes by their National Olympic Committee and by weapon, who have qualified through the team qualification (8), are removed. For the other NOCs, only the highest ranked athletes by zone and by weapon are retained.
Two individual spots were up for grabs for the Asia and Oceania region based on the World Rankings as of April 5, 2021. She is ranked 42nd and occupies one of the two available slots based on the ranking. Misaki Emura from Japan took the other spot from the region.
At the event, Korea’s World Champion Sanguk Oh, Hungary’s Anna Marton, Team Russia (men) and Team Poland (women) won gold medals in sabre at the Budapest World Cup, according to the Fencing federation.
Even though she had lost in the round of 64 of her event according to ESPN India, it was a nervous day for the 27-year-old and her coach at the Hungarian event, watching the events unfold.
In a statement on Twitter, Bhavani Devi wrote about her dream coming true:
Chase your dreams and dreams do come true
I have officially qualified for Tokyo Olympic games 2021 by securing a slot through the Asia/Oceania Zone of the Adjusted Official ranking. A moment to remember forever. A moment for which all the sacrifice, hard work, pain, obstacle, challenges, stress, ups and downs, joy and sorrow I went through was worth it. A journey that started alone but was fulfilled with the support of many. And the journey continues.
Firstly I would like to thank my parents who have had unending faith in me and let me follow my passion from a very young age. My parents and siblings were a wall of support even when many taunted us to quit the sport. I love you all forever and thanking is certainly not enough. This victory is yours. Especially dedicated to our father.
My coach, Nicola Zanotti with whom I started this Olympic journey. At first he was surprised that an Indian is dreaming about Olympic representation in fencing but he was confident that if we work hard with the right determination, discipline and hard work we can achieve it. We worked hard with the same determination and passion for the last five years and we are here to represent India at Tokyo. You have not only taught me fencing lessons but life lessons too. I thank you Nico and we will continue our work.
Everything needs a strong base to start off with and to improve further. To my coaches who had helped me to have a strong base Mr Vishwanathan, Chennai and Mr Sagar Lagu, SAI Thalassery - thank you for bringing my abilities and potential out. My support team, Gosports foundation who gave me a second opportunity to continue the sport I love, Sports Development authority of Tamil Nadu for their continuous support, Sports Authority of India for developing many initiatives in the sport and constantly supporting me, thank you so much. I want to thank all those individuals who have helped me in person and through crowdfunding. Thank you Allstar fencing for the world class equipment you have kept providing me with and thank you to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board .
Finally a big thank you Fencing Association of India and the entire fencing family. You have witnessed all the highs and lows, but have been there for me throughout. I would also like to take this opportunity to remember and thank my long time S&C trainer Mr Sandile Sibeko who passed away recently.
I always wanted to give my best. I always wanted to try. I tried to the best of my abilities and today with the help of you all, I am here to represent our beloved country at the Olympics games in Tokyo 2021. I will do my best at Tokyo with all your support.
Bhavani Devi CA