Bhubaneswar: The first-ever fencer to represent India at the Olympics also became the first to win a match at the Games. Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) student CA Bhavani Devi made a winning start to her historic Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 on Monday.
Bhavani overpowered Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi by 15-3 in just 6 minutes and 14 seconds. Bhavani’s official FIE rank is 42, while youngster Nadia was ranked 384. Bhavani dominated the matchup from the word go as fencer reached 8 points without a reply from Tunisian youngster in the first half.
Starting on a cautious note, Bhavani Devi was comfortable letting Azizi initiate the attack but hardly allowed the Tunisian to build on the right of way as she pinned her time and again to pocket her points.
Bhavani was quick to cancel out her opponent’s advances being strong on her defence.
In the second, Bhavani attacked and created openings at will for her points to seal her win in six minutes and 14 seconds.
However, Devi was knocked out after losing to France’s Manon Brunet in the Table of 32 match.
Bhavani Devi, who made history by becoming the first fencer from India to make it to the Olympic Games, trained extensively in Italy.
Bhavani Devi, who took up fencing at school to avoid classes, came to the limelight when she bagged a bronze medal in the 2009 Commonwealth Fencing Championship.
She is the first Indian to win a silver medal in the Asian Championships and gold at the Commonwealth Championships in 2019. She has also won a gold medal in the World Cup event in Paris.
Bhavani had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the individual sabre section following the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) Method employed after she could not participate in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying event due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Two individual spots were up for grabs for the Asia-Oceania region based on the world rankings as of April 5, 2021, and Bhavani ranked 45th at that time bagged one of the slots. Her best ranking ever is 36 she achieved in 2017.