Fencer Karan Singh shrugs off Asian Games snub to focus on Olympics
India's top-ranked male fencer Karan Singh Gurjar is eyeing a historic qualification for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.
Goa: The last few months haven’t been perfect for Karan Singh Gurjar, India’s top-ranked male fencer in the individual sabre discipline.
The 24-year-old from Rajasthan had to endure the disappointment of not getting clearance to participate in the Asian Games 2022 despite being eligible. Karan Singh was one of the athletes who fell under the last-minute cuts made by the Sports Ministry on the final Indian contingent.
“I think the Asian Games snub is in the past and I have set my focus on the next year's Olympics. During that time also, I was preparing for the Olympics qualification,” Karan told The Bridge on the sidelines of the National Games.
The fencer, competing in the 37th National Games in Goa, won silver in the individual sabre event on Monday, losing to his compatriot Padma Gisonidhi in the finals in a close battle with a score of 14-15.
“Fencing has close to one season left as we have six months and more than 9-10 tournaments in the circuit. I am ranked 68 in the world at the moment and will try to qualify by the world ranking format,” Karan said about his Olympics qualification.
Karan will have to be in the world's top 30 by the cut-off date of 1st April 2024 to qualify for the Paris Olympics.
“If I don’t qualify by my world rankings, I will prepare for the Zonal Asian qualification which will provide me the pathway for the Olympics,” explained Karan. The winner of the Asia & Oceania zonal tournament in April 2024 will get a berth in the Paris Olympics.
India's highest-ranked male fencer
On a constant rise since 2021, Karan Singh showed signs of his talent and hard work early on with medals at the junior Asian and Commonwealth Championships.
After shifting to France to train under the legendary coach Christian Bauer at his Academy, Karan has made a significant jump from World number 200 to his current ranking of world number 68.
“Moving out of India and training in France has helped me quite a bit. We train about strategy and tactics during our bouts. Christian has made changes to my training and techniques and it is showing in my results," said Karan.
Karan reached the round of 64 of the 2022 Fencing World Championships defeating higher-ranked world number 39 Mao Kokubo of Japan in the round of 128. He lost to the defending champion and world number four Oh Sanguk of Korea, but his run from the qualifying round to the round of 64 was impressive.
Karan, who joined the Indian Navy through sports quota in 2019, has been fencing for close to a decade now starting at the age of 14 but he believes that his real potential came out when he started training in France.
“There are quite some differences between training in India and France. I get a lot of opponents in France to train with which is not the case here in India," said Karan.
"While there are cons also as we are on our own in Europe and have to arrange from meals to accommodation. But I have adapted well in the past three seasons," laughed the four-time national champion.
The fencer will fly back to France and prepare for the World Cup in Algeria from the 8th of November to the 10th of November.
"The World Cup will be my first major competition of this year and I am looking forward to it. A top 16 finish at this World Cup will give me good ranking points," Karan signed off.
With Bhavani Devi's heroics in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Fencing has garnered attention in the country and Karan Singh remains India's best bet in the men's category for the 2024 Paris Olympics.