Indian fencer Bhavani Devi bagged silver in the women’s sabre individual category of the Tournoi satellite world competition at Ghent in Belgium on Sunday. Azerbaijan’s Anna Bashta clinched gold after beating Bhavani 10-15 in the final, while Maurice Perez of Argentina walked away with the bronze medal.
The match began on a competitive note, with neither side being able to take a lead. Second-seed Anna managed to lead in the first half with Bhavani trailing 2-8. Anna capitalised on the advantage and dominated the scoreline by a narrow margin in the second half. Despite a commanding display of nerves by Bhavani in the second half, the first-half setback cost her the coveted gold medal.
The 26-year-old fencer has had a stupendous form this season. In July, she became the first Indian fencer to have made the last-16 round of World Fencing Championships in Budapest. She has now jumped 23 places in the current world rankings.
Ranked 31st at the world-level, this is, however, not the first time that Anna has outplayed Bhavani. Last week in Bulgaria too, Bhavani finished seventh after losing to Anna, who grabbed a silver medal at a satellite tournament.
Tokyo Olympic Qualifications
Currently ranked 43rd worldwide, Bhavani has to depend on her individual ranking or zonal qualifier to make it to Tokyo Olympics next year. With 24 spots up for grabs for as many as eight qualified teams in the individual category, ten more quotas will be awarded to countries without teams. Out of the ten quotas, two will be awarded each to Asia-Oceania and Europe, while Africa and Pan-America will get one quota each. The remaining four quotas will be based on the rankings in the zonal or continental qualifications tournament, to be held in April next year. Korea and China will be awarded full three quotas each, while hosts Japan has the privilege to win a minimum of eight quota spots.
The Tamil Nadu native Bhavani has eight competitions lined up until the end of March, including the World Cup, Grand Prix and a host of satellite events, that can be considered for qualifying at the Olympics. Only the top two players from the Asian zone in the world rankings will be liable to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.