Ashish Joseph1

...says CA Bhavani Devi, first Indian fencer to win an international gold medal

For the last ten days, accolades have been pouring in from all corners for CA Bhavani Devi, who made history by becoming the first fencer from India to win a gold medal at Women’s World Cup Satellite Sabre Tournament in Iceland. While she received congratulatory messages from many , including union sports minister Vijay Goel and Virender Sehwag, she’s yet to hear a word of appreciation from the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).Expressing disappointment, Bhavani says, “I didn’t expect the news of my winning the medal would reach this many people and that sports minister Vijay THO Goel sir and Sehwag I’D PR would call me. It was STICK AS a surprise for me.Also, the congratuTHE latory messages on EQUIPM social media were unexpected. After SPORT.all that, I thought I HO would get calls from the state sports authorities B congratulating me. But sadly no. I am a bit sad about that, but it’s okay .“

Meanwhile, the fencer, who is currently undergoing training in Italy for the Asian Championship starting next week, says what’s worrying her more is that the SDAT hasn’t released funds due to her in the last few months. Last year, she was chosen for their elite scheme scholarship. “My family has been supporting me financially for the last four months. I also get some help from a foundation that helps young and emerging sports people. I’ve been expecting funds from SDAT to come for some time. It’s difficult for my family to fund me for all the tournaments that I go for. Recently , I took part in five international competitions and my T. AND THAT’S family OW IT ALL would have spent at least BEGAN `1.5 lakh on each of them. I hope the government does some thing at the earliest. Now, I don’t have funds for the upcoming com petitions,“ she informs.

Bhavani is currently busy preparing for the Asian Championship and World Championship. “Preparations are going on in full swing and I am confident of doing well. The medal which I won in Iceland is special, for it made me the first Indian to win a gold in an international event,“ says the 23-year-old fencer excitedly.

Being a temple priest’s daughter, taking up a combat sport and becoming a professional in that was something that Bhavani least expected as a teenager. “ At first, I didn’t take up fencing with an intention to become a pro. I picked up the sport when I was in Class Six. I joined this sport just for fun.Gradually , I got clued into it. Those days, I would practise with a stick as I didn’t have the required equipment for the sport. And that’s how it all began.“

With back-to-back tournaments and continuous training all through the year, it’s been some time since she’s been home. And of course, she misses her home. “I miss everything in Chennai -food, places, my home. In the last five years, I have hardly stayed a month in Chennai. I mainly train at Sports Authority Of India (SAI) Centre at Thalassery in Kerala.Now, I have been in Italy for the last few months. Livorno, the place where I stay in Italy , is much more calm and quieter than Chennai.Sometimes I go to cities like Florence and Pisa, and that makes my weekends,“ says Bhavani.