Bereft of a sparring partner, fencer Bhavani Devi makes one

Not only physical training but the Indian fencer also attends sports psychology sessions to stay mentally sharp.

India’s promising fencing star CA Bhavani Devi isn’t leaving too much of her practice up to the imagination.

Currently in Chennai, the sabre fencer has had the need to spar with a partner to train and prepare.

So, the 26-year-old just created one.

Bhavani Devi made a temporary dummy partner at her home with the help of her kit so that she could train against something more concrete and tangible.

"I felt the space on my terrace was perfect to create a dummy," she told the Times of India. "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," she explained.

Sparring with a partner is a quintessential requirement for combat sports athletes, something which the ongoing lockdown worldwide has largely eliminated.

However, that hasn’t stopped the Indian fencer who now turns to her temporary arrangement three times a week. 

And the Olympic hopeful sounded content with the progress thus far.

"It is of the right height for me to train with,” she said. “It is nice to get the feel of sparring with a partner. Before this, I was having sessions where I only imagined practicing with someone."

Out to make history

The Tamil Nadu athlete left Italy in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in February but is in constant touch with coach Nicola Zanotti, who is helping her to claim India’s maiden Olympic berth in the discipline.

The first Indian fencer to win gold at an international event, Bhavani Devi is two World Cup round-of-32 finishes away from sealing a place at the Tokyo Olympics.

Apart from innovative training methods and watching fencing videos online, Bhavani Devi is also going the distance to keep herself mentally sharp, which includes attending sessions of a sports psychologist.

However, that’s not enough to abate a high-intensity fencing workout.

"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," Bhavani revealed.

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