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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tokyo 2020: Fencer Bhavani Devi goes down fighting on Games debut

Bhavani Devi, the first Indian fencer to qualify for Olympics, began her campaign with a historic win against Nadia Ben Azizi but lost to world number three Manon Brunet in the next round.

By: PTI | Tokyo |
Updated: July 26, 2021 11:21:20 am
Bhavani Devi in action against Nadia Ben Azizi of Tunisia in the women's individual R64 sabre competition at the Tokyo Olympics. (AP)

Bhavani Devi’s Olympic debut campaign ended in a fighting second- round defeat in the women’s individual sabre event, the trailblazing Indian fencer bowing out with much promise here on Monday.

The 27-year-old Bhavani, the first fencer from the country to qualify for the Olympics, began her campaign with a confident 15-3 win against Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi but bumped into world number three and Rio Olympic semifinalist Manon Brunet in the next round, which she lost 7-15.

Bhavani said she committed mistakes against Brunet but will take the result in her stride.

“I didn’t fence well in the first half but in the second half I tried to change something but it was too late. I am happy I fenced with one of the top fencers in the world,” Bhavani said of her contest against Brunet.

“In between I was doing some mistakes but it is okay, sabre is very quick. It is the first time Indians will watch fencing, so I am very happy that I could perform in front of them.”

The Chennai fencer said she has gained experience from the Tokyo outing, which should help her in future challenges.

“It is my first Olympics and it could be better but I am okay with the experience I had from this Olympics. It will be a learning experience for me to improve myself.

“I did not qualify for Rio, I tried my best to qualify and that helped me to become stronger as a person and to move forward for Tokyo. From here onwards, I will be living my dream as an Olympian.”

Bhavani said “staying away from family and missing normal life” was the sacrifice she had to make to live her dream.

“I train in Italy. It is worth it and it is my family’s dream, too, so I am happy,” she said adding that she worked on her basic foot work at her terrace during the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

Bhavani’s aggression yielded points against Azizi but French Brunet used all her experience to negate the tactics of the Indian, who lost two points for going out of the arena.

The Indian could score only one point each in the first two periods but came back well in the third.

Brunet was sharp and had a better technique as she scored points from distance.

After trailing 2-8 going into the third and final round, Bhavani needed nothing short of a spectacular show in the final one, but Brunet largely remained untroubled in the nine minute and 48 second match.

In the opening round though, Chennai’s Bhavani was a much better player, taking advantage of Azizi’s open stance that allowed her to score points quickly.

Bhavani did not concede a single point in the first three-minute period and raced to a commanding 8-0 lead against the Tunisian.

Nadia managed some touches in the second period but the Indian kept building her lead to win the contest in six minutes and 14 seconds.

The fencer who touches the 15 point-mark first, is declared winner.

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