'I am happy I fenced with one of the top fencers in the world.'
Bhavani Chadalavada Anandha Sundh Devi, India's first fencer at an Olympics, lasted two rounds at the Tokyo Games, but impressed before her historic maiden appearance ended in defeat to France’s world No. 3 Manon Brunet in the women's individual sabre event, on Monday.
The 27-year-old began her campaign with a confident 15-3 win over Tunisia's Nadia Ben Azizi, but ran into Rio Olympics semi-finalist Brunet in the next round, which she lost 7-15.
Bhavani said she committed mistakes against Brunet, but will take the result in her stride.
"I didn't fence well in the first half; in the second half I tried to change something, but it was too late. I am happy I fenced with one of the top fencers in the world," Bhavani said of her contest against Brunet.
"In between I was doing some mistakes, but it is okay; sabre is very quick. It is the first time Indians will watch fencing, so I am very happy that I could perform in front of them."
The sabre is the fastest of fencing competitions, in which opponents can slash anywhere above the waist. The fencer who touches the 15 point-mark first is declared the winner.
In the other two events -- foil and epee -- only the tip of the sword can be used to target the opponent.
The Chennai fencer said she gained valuable experience from her Tokyo outing, which will help her in future challenges.
"It is my first Olympics and it could be better, but I am okay with the experience I had from this Olympics. It will be a learning experience for me to improve myself.
"I did not qualify for Rio; I tried my best to qualify and that helped me to become stronger as a person and to move forward for Tokyo. From here onwards, I will be living my dream as an Olympian."
Bhavani said "staying away from family and missing normal life" was the sacrifice she had to make to live her dream.
"I train in Italy. It is worth it and it is my family's dream, too, so I am happy," she said, adding that she worked on her basic foot work at her terrace during the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
Bhavani's aggression yielded points against Azizi but Frenchwoman Brunet used all her experience to negate the tactics of the Indian, who lost two points for going out of the arena.