After PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, the Indian sports lovers another woman to be proud of – CA Bhavani Devi.
Starting from the ancient times all the way through to modern times (including mythology), India has had quite a few historical people with expert swordsmanship. Be it Nakula and Sahadeva from the Mahabharata, Maharana Pratap of Chitor or Prithwiraj Chauhan, to the great Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah of Bengal or the great Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, Indian history has always been filled with eminent swordsmen.
For a country of the rich heritage and legacy of expert swordsmen as India, it is quite disheartening and bewildering a fact as to why SHE has never had a champion at the top most international level in the World’s Oldest Sport in all these years.
Well up until now! India can now truly boast of an international champion in the same. Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi or C.A. Bhavani Devi, as she’s better known, created history when she won gold in Sabre Fencing at the World Cup 2017 in Iceland as the first Indian ever.
Born on August 23, 1993, in Chennai, to a priest father and a home maker mother, Bhavani got her education from Muruga Dhanushkodi Girls Higher Secondary School in Chennai. She got an MBA degree from St. Joseph Engineering College, Chennai. At the age of 9 in 2004, she was introduced to Fencing at her school. Devi joined Indian fencing coach Sagar Lagu’s training academy in Thalassery after completing her 10th standard education. She made her first ever international tournament appearance in Turkey when she was 14. The experience turned blue as she was shown the black card for arriving 3 minutes late.
At the Commonwealth Championships in Malaysia in 2009, Bhavani won her first ever medal with a Bronze in the Sabre team category. The very next year became a stepping stone in the life of the young fencer as she won two Bronze medals at the 2010 International Open in Thailand and the Asian Championship 2010 in the Philippines. At the 2012 Commonwealth Championships in Jersey, she won a Silver medal in team event and Bronze medal in the individual category. At the 2014 Asian Championships in Philippines, Devi bagged a silver medal in the U-23 individual category, bettering her previous record, followed by Bronze the following year.
Her first ever Gold medal came in the Tuscany Cup, in Italy in 2014. In 2015, Bhavani Devi was selected in the ‘Go Sports Foundation’ for Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme as one of 15 athletes. In the recently concluded Satellite World Cup in Iceland, she won the first ever Gold for India at the grandest stage. She defeated Sarah Jane Hampson of the Great Britain by 15-13 points in the final.
Speaking to PTI after her epic achievement, Bhavani said: “This is my third time in this competition. I have lost in quarter finals in the previous years. Now I have won my first medal. It is also the first medal in world level competition as I have won medals in Asian and Commonwealth championships.”
With a first in the sport already bagged, we can only hope to see the Modern Day LAXMI BAI, bringing more glory for her country in the upcoming 2018 Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.