Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi, also known as CA Bhavani Devi, is a trailblazing Indian fencer. She made history as the first Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics, and her much-anticipated debut will take place at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Notably, Bhavani Devi achieved a significant milestone by securing the first Gold Medal for fencing in the Commonwealth Championship, breaking a 44-year-old record. Additionally, she holds the distinction of being the sole Indian fencer to achieve a top 50 ranking in the global fencing arena.
Bhavani Devi embarked on her fencing journey in 2004 during her time as a student at Muruga Dhanushkodi Girls’ Higher Secondary School. Initially, she practised fencing using bamboo sticks instead of traditional sabre weapons. It wasn’t until a national event that she had her first experience with electric fencing equipment. Unlike many international athletes who had access to indoor facilities with electric swords, Bhavani Devi dedicated herself to training under the hot sun. Financial constraints made it challenging for her to purchase her electric sword, leading her to frequently borrow swords from fellow players when participating in tournaments. Her national representation began in 2004 in Madhya Pradesh, marking the start of her professional journey in sabre fencing. She honed her skills while training at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
Bhavani’s journey to excellence in fencing commenced with her impressive Bronze Medal win in the sabre category at the 2009 Commonwealth Championship held in Malaysia. Over the years, she has gathered a multitude of achievements, including a Bronze in the 2010 International Open in Thailand and a Bronze in the 2010 Cadet Asian Championship, which took place in the Philippines. In the same year, she also secured a Bronze at the 2010 Asian Championship, held in the Philippines. Her remarkable accomplishments continued with a Silver and Bronze at the 2012 Commonwealth Championship hosted in Jersey. In 2014, Bhavani made history by clinching the Silver Medal at the Asian Championship held in the Philippines in the under-23 category, becoming the first Indian to achieve this remarkable feat.
Bhavani Devi has advanced to the pre-quarterfinals of the women’s sabre individual event at the Asian Games, where she secured the top rank in her pool. Her journey to this stage included winning all five of her preliminary round matches and triumphing over opponents hailing from Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Bangladesh. Bhavani Devi, who made history as the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, is now setting her sights on clinching a fencing medal at the Asian Games.