Hangzhou: India’s top fencer Bhavani Devi missed out on winning first medal in fencing for the country at the Asian Games 2023 after losing to the People’s Republic of China’s Shao Yaqi in the quarterfinals of the women’s sabre fencing event here on Tuesday.
Ranked 32nd in the world, Bhavani lost her quarterfinal bout to the world No. 12 Chinese fencer 15-7 at the Hangzhou Dianzi University Gymnasium.
Earlier, Bhavani earned the top seed in the knockouts after coming out of the pool stage unscathed with five consecutive wins.
The 30-year-old Bhavani began with a 5-2 win over Juliet Jie Min Heng of Singapore and then trounced Saudi Arab’s Alhsna Abdulrahman Alhammad 5-1, Uzbekistan’s Zaynab Dayibekova and Roksana Khatun of Bangladesh. Bhavani also defeated Karina Dospay of Kazakhstan 5-3.
While four of Bhavani’s rivals in the pool stage were ranked below her, Zaynab, the reigning Asian champion who beat Bhavani in the semifinals of the Asian Fencing Championships earlier this year, was ranked 26th.
Bhavani had lost to Zaynab at the Asian championships in Wuxi, China in June but became the first Indian fencer to win a medal at the continental meet with a bronze. She had also defeated world champion and No. 1 Misaki Emura of Japan in the quarter-finals of the same event.
Courtesy of her unbeaten run in the pool stage in Hangzhou on Tuesday, Bhavani earned herself a bye in the table of 32 as the top seed and beat Thailand’s Tonkhaw Phokaew 15-9 in the table of 16. Her run then ended in the quarters.
Bhavani competed at Tokyo 2020 and is the only fencer to represent India at the Olympic Games, Olympics.com reported.
Besides sabre events, fencing at the Asian Games 2023 includes competition for foil and epee disciplines. Asian Games debutant Taniksha Khatri made it to the quarter-finals in the women’s epee but fell short of a medal after losing to Man Wai Vivian Kong of Hong Kong China on Sunday.
Taniksha Khatri will also lead India’s challenge in the women’s epee team event alongside Ena Arora, Yashikeerat Kaur Hayer and Jyothika Dutta on Wednesday.