14th March, 2021, was a historic day in Indian sports, as 8-time National champion, Bhavani Devi, booked her spot at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first Indian Fencer ever to achieve this feat.

On Wednesday evening, the 17th of March, a press conference was facilitated for India’s history maker, by the Fencing Association of India (FAI) and GoSports Foundation. The occasion saw a wide range of eminent journalists and other personalities come together to speak to Bhavani about her journey in the sport, the challenges she’s faced and so much more, making it a truly proud moment for her, and her family. 

An excited and determined Bhavani, when asked about her plans for Tokyo said, “I want to give my absolute best performance at the Olympics and I wish to not restrict myself in any way when it comes to what I can achieve at this global event as I know that the possibilities are limitless. I’m aiming to enjoy every single process and activity from now until the Olympics and I am very much looking forward to performing my best in front of the whole world and at the same time, make my nation and family proud.” Over the years, Bhavani’s journey has been filled with challenges and while participating in this niche sport.  Her historic accomplishment is sure to be a beacon of hope for all promising & ambitious young athletes, especially young girls, proving that nothing is impossible with her Olympic qualification. On her path to stardom, Bhavani’s family have been a constant source of support, and they have gone through their own hardships and sacrifices too, to help her achieve her dream. Bhavani’s doting mother, Ramani CA, was present at the press conference and had this to say about how she felt with Bhavani training all those miles away, “The biggest concern for me as a mother was Bhavani's safety since she was going to stay abroad and travel alone. But she faced it with utmost courage and the video calls daily with her reassured me that everything is fine on her side.”

Bhavani’s fantastic success would not have been possible without the overwhelming support she has received from the Fencing Association of India (FAI), throughout her journey. The President of the FAI and the General Secretary of the IOA, Mr. Rajeev Mehta, beamed with pride while speaking to the press and shed some light on what the association is doing to promote, and drive fencing participation in the country. “Along with the Sports Minister, we have put together a strategy for the sport of fencing. We are looking to build 50 centers on a national level, and each center will have at least 30 kids who are specially selected for fencing. There will also be 50 centers in the district level, and we have to fulfil this by March 31st. For the first time in the history of fencing, we're receiving very good support from the government of India. Amidst this, we also received Bhavani's qualification news and it has been a huge boost to everyone, with her achievement being viewed in a different light all together. So I think this is just the beginning, and many more athletes will qualify in fencing in the future”, said Mr. Rajeev Mehta to the gathering. 

Having been a part of her journey since 2015, Bhavani’s stupendous feat has been incredibly emotional for everyone at GoSports Foundation. Speaking about this occasion and the challenge of promoting niche sports, Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director of GoSports Foundation said, "Rahul Dravid challenged us all during the initial, embryonic discussion about the mentorship programme, to look at supporting women in niche sports and take up that challenge, which is how we entered into the foray of supporting athletes from fencing, gymnastics, taekwondo and many more. So many of these athletes have become successful in their own way and it makes me really happy to think that the programme has played an integral role in creating these champions and such historic firsts across the sports we are supporting".

Bhavani will now focus on her journey ahead, preparing meticulously for Tokyo, as she aims to be in the best possible shape to make the entire country proud at the mega event. Bhavani’s story is one of incredible dedication and desire to never give up on one's dreams, and her eyes are now firmly fixed on achieving even more history in Tokyo.