Fencer Bhavani Devi is now in India but with training centres and gyms closed she lacks a coach. In the absence of a human sparring partner, desperate to stay on top of the competition, Bhavani is now using her fencing kit bag and meshed stainless steel mask as a dummy for target exercises.

Before the lockdown, Bhavani was in Livorno in Italy, training under her coach Nicola Zanotti, trying to prepare her bid for an Olympic berth. Now at home in Chennai, the 26-year-old is making the best use of this free time practising her moves with a dummy to meet the end goal – qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fencer Bhavani Devi is practising with a dummy at home to fulfill her Olympics dream.
  • She is using her fencing kit bag and meshed stainless steel mask and a dummy for target exercises.
  • The fencer talked about how she has created a “dummy partner” to feel the vibe of competition.

Bhavani left Italy in late February when COVID-19 outbreak was on the rise in the European nation..  The fencer, who was born in Tamil Nadu, is trying to find innovative work from home ideas to keep up with the competition.

Fencing with a dummy

​”Livorno remained largely unaffected when the coronavirus first hit the country. But Italy has been my second home for a while now and all that has happened in the country is distressing. I stay in touch with my coach on a regular basis to get updates about the situation and I am being told it is under control,” Bhavani told TOI.

She grabbed the spotlight at Fencing Sabre World Cup in Utah where she finished at the 38th position last year. In the 2014 Asian Championship under-23 category in the Philippines, Bhavani bagged the silver medal becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat.

The fencer talked about how she has created a “dummy partner”. “I felt the space on my terrace was perfect to create a dummy. I already had two concrete slabs at home and placed two bricks below them. My fencing kit bag was hoisted over the slab. My fencing mesh, made of stainless steel, was then placed on top of it,” Bhavani explained the innovative methods she used to create the dummy.

Temporary partner

​Bhavani trains with the dummy thrice a week. “I got this temporary arrangement done a few days ago and it is of the right height for me to train with. It is nice to get the feel of sparring with a partner. Before this, I was having sessions where I only imagined practising with someone,” the fencer said.

Yoga and meditation

Bhavani claimed, “Yoga and meditation calm me after the intense training sessions in the first half of the day. Also, staying at home has a big plus since I get the best possible food.”

In between all the chaos she is still holding it strong and keeping a check on her mental health. Bhavani attended a session with experienced sports psychologist Divya Jain and added, “I am thankful that the GoSports foundation facilitated it. The session highlighted on aspects of mental well-being and how to keep stress away during this period.”

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Olympics dream

Apart from her regular set of workouts and meditation routines, Bhavani also finds time to indulge in other sporting activities. “I play badminton regularly as it provides me with intense physical activity,” she said.

If Bhavani succeeds, she will become the first-ever Indian fencer to make the Olympics cut

“This is the time for me to work on my weaknesses and remain injury-free. Whenever there is an announcement for the next set of competitions, I hope to be ready both physically and mentally,” Bhavani believes.

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Feature Image Credit: ESPN

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