Fencing: Bhavani Devi makes confident start on Olympic debut with easy win


Indian fencer Bhavani Devi got off to a confident start on her Olympic debut as she demolished the challenge of Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi 15-3 to advance to the second round of the women’s individual sabre event at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

Chennai’s Bhavani, the first Indian to qualify for the Olympics, was aggressive from the beginning and took advantage of Azizi’s open stance, which allowed her to score points quickly.

The 27-year-old Bhavani did not concede a single point in the first three-minute period and raced to a commanding 8-0 lead.

Bhavani extended her lead to 9-0 in the second period before Nadia finally got on the scoreboard for 9-1. The Tunisian managed some touches in the second period but the Indian used her momentum and kept building her lead to win the contest in six minutes and 14 seconds.

The fencer who touches the 15-point mark first is declared winner. In the sabre event, the target area consists of everything above the waist, including the head and arms, but not the hands. In the epee discipline, the target area is the entire body, including the head and limbs, whereas in foil, the target areas include the torso (defined from the shoulder to the groin) and the back of the opponent’s waist. Off-target areas in foil are the hands, feet, head and neck.

The other major difference between sabre and the foil and epee weapons is that in sabre, a hit can be made with the cutting edge of the weapon, not just with the tip.

Bhavani, seeded 29th, now has a tough second-round opponent in fourth-seeded Frenchwoman Manon Brunet, a semifinalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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