Chadalavada Ananda Bhavani Devi is an Indian woman fencer born on 27th August 1994. She hails from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. She specializes in Sabre fencing and represents India in the same discipline. She became the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Bhavani Devi was born to CA Sundararaman and CA Ramani. She comes from a middle-class family residing in Chennai. Her father is a temple priest and her mother is a housewife. She is the youngest of 4 siblings.
Bhavani took part in sports activities at a young age. In 2003, while studying in 6th standard, she was introduced to fencing in her school. Fencing is one of the least famous sports in India. She began to take interest in fencing and pursue the sport passionately.
After completing her 10th boards, Bhavani joined the Sports Authority of India Centre in Thalassery, Kerala, and trained under fencing coach Sagar Lagu to master her fencing skills. Thalassery is amid the few SAI centers that have fencing training infrastructure and facilities.
Bhavani's parents faced a lot of hardships to fulfill their daughter’s dream. Coming from a middle-class, it’s not easy to afford expensive equipment and training. At one point, Bhavani thought of quitting the sport because of a lack of funding to purchase the equipment until 2015 when GoSports Foundation came to her aid and provided her a scholarship.
Bhavani is an MBA graduate of St. Joseph College of Engineering in Chennai.
Rise to Glory
Bhavani Devi took part in the Junior Nationals in 2007 at Amravati in Maharashtra, where her fencing talent was spotted by national coach Sagar Lagu. Upon the coach’s request, she moved to the SAI center in Thalassery, Kerala. In 2008, Bhavani won her first national Gold medal in U-17 Junior Nationals.
In 2010, she was crowned as National Champion for the first time at the Senior National Open Fencing Championships. Between 2011-2018, she emerged as National Champion seven times during that period. Later in 2010, she won her first international individual medal by winning the Bronze at the International Open in Thailand.
In 2014, Bhavani made her international debut in Turkey. That year, she won her first international Gold medal at the Tuscany Cup in Italy.
In 2017, prior to winning the historic World Cup Gold medal, she achieved the feat of becoming the 1st Indian fencer to win the Gold medal in an international fencing event at the Tournoi Satellite Fencing Championship Reykjavik in Iceland. A year later, she won the Silver medal at the same tournament.
In 2019, she became the first Indian fencer to break into Top-50 by ranking 42nd in the world.
Bhavani Devi won her first international medal in 2009 when she won the Bronze medal in Sabre Women’s Team event at the Junior Commonwealth Fencing Championships held in Malaysia. A year later, she won the Bronze in Sabre Team event at the Asian Cadet Fencing Championships in the Philippines.
At the 2012 Commonwealth Fencing Championships, she won the Silver medal in Sabre Women’s Team, followed by the Bronze in Sabre Individual at Jersey in the USA. In 2014, she became the first Indian fencer to win a medal at the U-23 Asian Fencing Championships when she won the Silver medal in Sabre Individual held in the Philippines.
In 2015, Bhavani won the Bronze medal in Sabre Individual at the U-23 Asian Fencing Championships and became 1st fencer from India to win 2 medals at the tournament in the U-23 category.
In June 2017, she created history by becoming the first Indian fencer to win a World Cup Gold medal at the Fencing World Cup at Reykjavik in Iceland. A year later, she achieved another feat by winning the Gold medal at the Senior Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Canberra, Australia.
In March 2020, Bhavani hit the national headlines after becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. She secured her Olympics berth after Hungary was defeated by South-Korea in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Team event at the Fencing World Cup in Hungary.