The athletes of emerging India surprise us every day. C.A. Bhavani Devi who won India’s first international gold medal in fencing is one such athlete It was only when she heard the team from Maharashtra yell “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji” at the Nationals that C.A. Bhavani Devi, who won India’s first international gold medal in fencing earlier last month, realized that people might easily think she was named after the Maratha warrior’s famous sword. Fencing was just a freak accident of fate. When she was in class VI, Bhavani cringed as her teacher distributed the final exam results. Suddenly there was a welcome interruption—sports sign-ups for squash, swimming, gymnastics, boxing and fencing, introduced in Tamil Nadu’s schools by the late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. By the time they got to Bhavani, all the slots were filled, but they returned to say they needed more students for fencing. That day Bhavani would have opted for any sport to escape her poor marks.
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