Home workout, fencing videos, WhatsApp chats keep Bhavani Devi busy

The 26-year-old fencer from Tamil Nadu was training in Italy but had to return and practice in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bhavani Devi is targeting becoming the first-ever fencer from India to qualify for the Olympics.

As the sport only has niche appeal with the country, the lack of proper fencing training centres in India means that she spends most of her time training abroad.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to a standstill, Bhavani Devi like most other athletes has had to change her plans and training regimes while in isolation.

The coronavirus outbreak forced her out of Italy where she was training and she returned home to Chennai when she found out that the Belgium camp was called off as well.

"Once again, all the training centres are closed (in Chennai)," she told ESPN. "So my coach and my team at GoSports foundation have helped me modify the training plan according to the things that I have access to currently. 

"That will help me maintain my form and get back to where I left things,” she explained.

The 26-year-old is ensuring that she’s in good physical condition even though the lockdown in India has presented several obstacles to her training.

"My home workouts are given by my coach from Italy. And when I get to go to the gym, I will work with my trainer,” she said. 

“At the moment, I'm doing mostly bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats and push-ups. I'm also doing some fencing footworks,” said the 26-year-old.

That said, nothing can replace the regular training sessions at the base in Livorno, which she had grown accustomed to.

“I miss the fencing lessons with my coach, my partners and of course the setup. They (Italy) have been locked (down) since the last few weeks, but we keep in touch via WhatsApp and luckily everyone is safe,” she said.

Her obsession with fencing is clear for all those close to her to see and also takes up most of her free time in the form of old classic fencing videos.

“I'm watching a lot of my matches, but the 2019 World Championship where I reached the pre-quarterfinals against Bianca Pascu is my favourite,” Bhavani Devi opined.

“Over the last few months, I've had to do lots of travel and training, so I'm using this period to get as much rest and recovery as possible. I'm doing yoga, I'm working on my rehabilitation exercises at home and trying to get some good sleep,” she explained.

Bhavani Devi has already rewritten the history books by becoming the first Indian fencer to win a gold in an international fencing event at the 2017 Tournoi Satellite Fencing Championship in Iceland.

Now despite the unexpected obstacles thrown in her way, Devi remains determined to not be deterred from her ultimate dream: a place at the Olympics.

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