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'Produnova' in Rio 2016, now 'Sabre' in Tokyo Olympics 2020: The Olympics vocabulary for India

India's participation in sabre fencing marks the dawn of a new era of awareness for Indian sports fans.

Indian fencer Bhavani Devi

India's Sabre fighter(source- TOI)


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 22 July 2021 7:08 AM GMT

When Dipa Karmakar famously attempted the death defying Produnova at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the world was abuzz with news on how close the gymnastics scoring margins were for the women's finals.

She came agonisingly close to winning a medal and was only about 0.800 away from gold medalist Simon Biles. But little did Dipa know that she had kickstarted a worldwide trend of curious sports fans searching the term 'Produnova'.

Something similar might also happen this year with Fencing at the Tokyo Olympics. 'Sabre' should be kept in mind as a new word to be added for Indian sport fans to learn. Bhavani Devi will be taking part in it and will have the country watching and egging her on in every manner possible.

The sabre sword has been used in all sorts of forms for the several centuries. Its primary use was for cavalry regiments who had to carry light swords to battle. The sabre developed as an efficient battle weapon as it was built to be convenient, light and was able to get the job done quite efficiently if put to good use.

What is the sabre?

The modern fencing sabre has developed in Italy. It is more of a straight sword which is light and flexible measuring a total of 88cm. The sword composition is of steel and must not exceed the minimum width of 4mm or the weight of 500g. Scoring in sabre is only done for hits and touches by fencers above the waist.

Hands are excluded from scoring areas as an injury there can be serious for fencers. As soon as the head of the fencing sword touches a body part of another fencer, the suit area which has received the touch of the fencer will trigger an electric current that flows through till the scoring machine. This gives out a green or red light that signals a valid point or an invalid touch respectively.

Right of way is given when both the green lights go off and it is up to the referee to decide the points given. The referee decides the point on the basis of whom the attacking fencer was. It must also be noted that the referee is not a mute spectator and can award punishments and points as and when is deemed necessary.

For Indian sports fans, Bhavani Devi will be headlining the fencing show. All eyes will be on her and how India's fencing debut actually manages to kick off. Keep an eye out for her in the women's sabre event scheduled to begin next week on the 26th of July.

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