Bhavani Devi's performance today was much more than an Olympic medal
Chadalavada Anandha Bhavani Devi scripted history today when she became the first Indian to compete in Fencing at the Olympic Games!
India's Chadalavada Anandha Bhavani Devi scripted history today when she became the first from the country to compete in the sport of Fencing at the Olympic Games!
Mind you that fencing has been a part of the quadrennial event since its maiden edition in the year 1896 at Athens and is one of the rare sports which has always been played at each edition of the quadrennial event.
It was 5:30 am in India when Bhavani Devi took to the mat at the Makuhari Messe Hall B for the first-ever fencing match in the Olympics involving an Indian. It was quite an early time for a common Indian citizen, yet today, they were awake.
There were thousands and thousands of eyes glued to the television as the 27-year-old Bhavani Devi faced off against Tunisia's Nadia Ben Azizi in her Table of 64 clash early in the morning.
Quite naturally, it was the first time ever that a majority of the Indians were witnessing the sport of fencing. It was a very special moment for the country.
And Bhavani Devi made sure that her fellow people had something to cheer for.
Competing in her first Olympic match, the Indian made sure that she gave Azizi no chance during the entire duration of the match as she crushed her with the scoreline overwhelmingly in her favour at 15-3.
Bhavani Devi's made her presence felt in the match right from the word go, as she raced to an 8-0 within the blink of an eye. The Tunisian, on the other hand, had no clue as to what had hit her and allowed Bhavani Devi to cruise through to the Table of 32.
Now Nadia Ben Azizi is ranked 423 in the world, while Bhavani Devi is 42nd. The difference between the two is huge. But none of it mattered to the Indian fans. For them, this was history being created in front of their eyes while they were watching the sport for the first time.
In fact, Bhavani Devi herself spoke about how happy she is that Indian fans watched fencing for the first time.
"It was the first time Indians watched fencing, so I am very happy that I could perform in front of them," the Tamil Nadu woman had said to PTI after she was knocked out in the Table of 32.
The Table of 32 clash was a very tough one for Bhavani Devi. She was up against the world number 3 from France, Manon Brunet.
The whole of India knew it was going to be tough, but the spirits were always high.
The Frenchwoman raced to an early 8-2 lead in the match. It felt as if after the highs of Table of 64, Bhavani Devi would be handed a trashing.
But, not today. Today was her day to shine.
Bhavani Devi might not have been able to script a turnaround – those sort of things only happen in fairy tales.
Instead, she fought back; she fought back like a warrior. She gave it her all, and the final scoreline of 7-15 was a respectable one.
It was certainly not a trashing as one had feared during the early stages of the match.
Bhavani Devi might have crashed out of the Olympics in just a matter of hours after her historic debut, but none of it mattered. She gave a fair account of herself to India and the entire world. She displayed that she belonged to the highest level.
And more importantly, Bhavani Devi ensured that the Indians were awake at 5:30 am for a sport as obscure as fencing in the country.
Yes, medals and podium finishes are important. But, the performance from Bhavani Devi today was much, much more than that.