Olympic-bound fencer Bhavani Devi on Wednesday revealed that she was battling the agony of leaving out her coronavirus-stricken mother during the qualifying tournament in Hungary.
Bhavani said she wanted to skip the qualifying tournament in March but her mother prodded her from hospital bed to compete in the event.
Before the Budapest qualification, my mom was hospitalized, she was COVID positive and was admitted in hospital for two months. I actually thought of not going for the competition,” Bhavani said during a virtual press conference arranged by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
I wanted to visit her but still, my mother told me from the hospital bed Don’t worry, I’m okay, I’m active, I just need some rest, and I will come back home soon, just focus on you game’, she said from Italy where she is currently training.
Bhavani secured an Olympic spot during the World Cup in Hungary in March. She qualified through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) Method. She is the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics.
The 27-year-old sabre fencer does not have any competitions planned ahead of the Olympics but said she is happy with her training.
As of now, we don’t have any competitions before Olympics, because almost all have been cancelled. We might have the Asian Championship, but it’s likely to get cancelled.
There are more training camps happening in Italy. There are no competitions and we can’t travel to other countries. But the camps are very intense, we train with very competitive fencers all day.”
Bhavani said she is expected to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in Rome next week, adding she is unlikely to return to India before the Tokyo Games.
SAI and my federation had requested Italian federation. The Indian Embassy in Rome is also trying to help me get vaccinated in Italy.
I will get vaccinated most probably next week. I’m thankful to SAI and the Indian Embassy in Rome and Fencing Association of India for helping me to get vaccinated here, she said.
As India grapples with a vicious second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries, including Italy, have imposed travel bans on India.
Otherwise, it would be very difficult to come to India for vaccination and come back here again because I think Italy has closed or stopped all the flights from India due to the current situation.
Asked if she will return to India before the Olympics, Bhavani said: I am not sure if I will come back to India before Olympics. Most probably will be going directly from here to Tokyo.”
Bhavani said while she will not tinker with the technical aspect of her game ahead of the Olympics, she and her coach will develop strategies to overcome her opponents.
Yes, we do change a little bit, but not so much. So technical wise is going to be the same, but strategy wise, we have to work according to the opponent, because we mostly know which opponent we fence during Olympics.
As COVID-10 pandemic disrupting camps and competitions, the Tamil Nadu fencer is yet to plan out a training schedule for July.
Till June we will be in Italy, in July, we are figuring out if we can train outside Italy or in Japan. Many countries don’t have a plan for July because of the COVID situation and in Tokyo, we cannot go to the training place early, we can go only five days before the event.
Bhavani also highlighted the need to be mentally strong, especially in a sport like fencing.
I have one mental trainer who helps me improve my mental strength because not only for current situation (pandemic) even in general, mental strength is as important as physical strength.
In my event, we fence for 10 minutes and each point takes 30 to 40 seconds. So, for that 40 seconds, you have to remain focussed and be active. Even if you miss for two seconds, you will miss your own whole coordination and balance.”