Explained: What is sabre fencing and can Bhavani Devi win a medal in the event for India at Tokyo Olympics?

Indian fencer Bhavani Devi [Image Credits: Bhavani Devi/Instagram]
Indian fencer Bhavani Devi [Image Credits: Bhavani Devi/Instagram]

Fencing is one of the five sports that has been a part of every Olympic campaign since 1896. However, India's Bhavani Devi will be the first Indian fencer to make an Olympic appearance at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Here's a look at the history of fencing and Bhavani Devi's chances of bagging a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Where did fencing originate from?

Fencing was practised as a form of defense in ancient times. The major shift in fencing as a sport came about in the 18th century. The change was led by Italian sword and fencing master Domenico Angelo, who established a fencing academy in London.

The foil, the épée, and the sabre are the three disciplines in modern fencing.

Also Read: Tracing the history of Fencing as an Olympic sport ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

How does scoring in the sabre event work?

Scoring points in sabre is only considered valid if the tip or side of the sabre touches above the opponent's waist. Points are added if the opponent touches the mask, arms or back. Once the sabre touches the opponent, a colored light, which is either red or green, appears. If both the lights appear during the same time, the referee decides the winner on the basis of the 'right way rules' or 'priority.'

Bhavani Devi's journey to the Tokyo Olympics 2020

Bhavani Devi grew up in Chennai. She is a 9-time national champion, and is responsible for putting India on the world map in fencing. Her first big medal came in 2014 when she won silver at the U-23 Asian Championship. She is also the first Indian fencer to win a gold medal at the Senior Commonwealth Championship.

She has been training in Italy for the Olympics with the Italian national team, and that will certainly stand her in good stead at the games. During the camp, she has also spoken to Olympic champion Aldo Montano, whose inputs could prove to be pivotal for Bhavani Devi at the Tokyo Olympics.

Bhavani's coach, Sagar Lau, is very confident about a good showing at the Olympics.

"She has a very good offense reaction. And, if pushed on the offense, she has the ability to convert it to a point and get it in her favor more often than not. She can execute her offense moves in a very good manner and I hope it helps her a lot.
"Both reflexes and movement speed are important for any fencer to emerge victorious. The final score will always be in favor of which fencer has good reflexes and speed of her moves," Lau said.

Can Bhavani Devi win a medal in the women's sabre event at the Tokyo Olympics 2020?

Bhavani Devi qualified for the Olympics through the official ranking of the Asia/Oceanic zone. She is currently ranked 42nd in the event. She will be up against the world's best sabre participants, including Kharlan Olga, who is currently the world number 1 and slated to win the individual event.

Bhavani Devi will be one of the underdogs for the sabre event, considering the quality of her opponents. If Bhavani Devi has to give herself any chance of finishing at the podium, she will have to put on a special show and dethrone world champions to make her way to the top.

Also Read: Bhavani Devi’s coach optimistic about his ward’s good show at Tokyo Olympics

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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