Bhavani Devi, First Indian Fencer to Qualify for Olympics, Exits in Second Round

·3 min read

India's CA Bhavani Devi made history by becoming the first fencer from the country to win an Olympic match, defeating Tunisia's Nadia Ben Azizi 15-3 to advance to the Round of 32 in the women's individual sabre event at the Makuhari Messe Hall on Monday.

Hours later though, she faced French fourth seed Manon Brunet and despite putting up a brave fight, has been eliminated from the competition with a 15-7 scoreline.

Even as her campaign ends, the 27-year-old will return to India having created Olympic history as she is the first Indian fencer to ever qualify for the games, despite the sport being a part of the quadrennial event since the time the modern Olympics started in 1896.

Manon established an early lead as she went on the attack, pushing Bhavani back and making the touch to win points. She had a big lead before Bhavani scored her first point. The first round ended 9-2 in Manon's favour.

Bhavani was more aggressive in the second round as she narrowed the gap after Manon had scored two more points. Bhavani scored four points in quick succession and narrowed the lead to 11-6 but the French opponent was too strong and too experienced and emerged 15-7 winner.

Earlier in the first-round match, the 27-year-old Bhavani, who had narrowly missed qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016, got an early advantage in the first period as she raced to an 8-0 lead, defending well, and counter-attacking to score points against Nadia Ben Azizi of Tunisia.

She used the 'right of way' rule to her advantage as she used her quick reflexes to parry attacks by Nadia and score points.

In foil and sabre fencing, the 'right of way' rule kicks in when both fencers touch each other at the same time. As a point could be awarded to only one, it goes to the fencer who had the priority. The priority can be gained by either initiating the attack or defending well or by establishing a 'point-in-line' which means that the fencer's arm is extended with the weapon pointing at the target area of the opponent.

The 'right of way' can also be gained with a counter-attack against a compound attack before it is finally completed with a hit while the opponent is still in final preparation.

Taking on an opponent ranked 423 in the world, Bhavani Devi used her strong defence to establish the 'right of way' and scored points.

In the second period, having established a good lead, the world number 42, went on the attack and scored points easily to cruise to victory.

Introduced to the sport at the school level, Bhavani's determination saw her rise through the ranks in the domestic circuit before winning a bronze medal at the 2009 Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Malaysia, her maiden international medal.

She also became the first Indian to clinch a silver medal at the Asian Championships in 2014 in the Philippines and is also the first from the country to win a Commonwealth Championships gold, registering her victory at the 2019 edition in Canberra, Australia.

She had also come agonisingly close securing a berth at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

. Read more on Olympic Sports by The Quint.Vijay Diwas: How India Fought the High-Altitude Kargil War And WonBhavani Devi, First Indian Fencer to Qualify for Olympics, Exits in Second Round . Read more on Olympic Sports by The Quint.

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