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Fencing

How Indian fencer Bhavani Devi's parents sacrificed to see their daughter fulfill Olympics dream

Bhavani Devi's parents played a huge role in ensuring their daughter reached where she is today.

Bhavani Devi
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Bhavani Devi with parents
By

C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 2021-06-21T15:02:00+05:30

We often read stories of sportspersons highlighting the struggles they endured while growing up. Training, cost of procuring equipment, travel, nutrition, and other issues are frequently an intrinsic part of the journey to reach the top. Bhavani Devi is one such person who has endured a tough track and it was her parents who helped shape the early years of her career with their sacrifices.

When Bhavani Devi made the decision to take up fencing, there was no real motive behind it barring the opportunity to learn a new sport in school. It was a chance with fate that brought her to into the world of foil, epee, and sabres. Her parents were extremely supportive of her right from her school days. At a time when fencing was virtually unknown, it was still expensive to procure equipment. The swords were susceptible to breaking given the nature of the sport and were often imported. An experience she has previously spoken about reflected the situation that her family was in. When she took up fencing, she was told about the expense of the sport and what it would cost to train and compete. Bhavani Devi had to paint a different picture about her family income to her teachers in order to continue fencing. If not, it would have been a completely different story that would have seen her give up the sport due to financial constraints.


Her father, A Sundharam was a priest at a temple and supported Bhavani Devi right until his unfortunate demise in 2019. There was constant monetary support from him despite having to endure the expenses of her training and travel with no government grants or additional means of income support. It is also stated that her mother sold her jewelry to provide the much-needed monetary boost during the initial days of her career. Regardless of various stories and reports, what stands out is that never once did her parents deny her the opportunity to build a career in sports based on financial constraints. There would have been numerous doubters who objected to the practicality of her qualifying for the Olympics. But standing beside her all the time were her parents who went out of their way to provide her what she required.

The sporting heroes whom we never see are the ones who are also the proudest and most supportive. Bhavani Devi's parents stand to represent numerous individuals who have made sacrifices in order for their children to succeed. The journey to the top is often ignored amidst all the joy and the celebration. But it is also something that should never be forgotten for the sake of those who gave in their all while on the sidelines.


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