Fencing gains popularity in Srikakulam as athletes win national-level tournaments

Coach Vamsi says more girls join classes to learn the Olympic sport and bring medals
For representational purposes. (File Photo)
For representational purposes. (File Photo)

SRIKAKULAM: Oil, epee and Sabre might sound even for a sportsperson. But, for the youngsters in Srikakulam district, who are choosing a career in fencing, these words are the new attractions. 

V Jasmine
V Jasmine

Fencing is gaining popularity among youngsters, especially girls, in the district as quite a few of them have won national-level tournaments.

The combat sport not only improves self-confidence among girls but also brings name, fame and employment opportunities for those who are excelling in the sport. The number of children joining fencing is on the rise in the district. 

Fencing is one of the fledgling Olympic sports in India. It is traditional swordsmanship, where two competitors duel with rapiers. It improves the individual’s speed, anticipation, reflexes, concentration, self-defense, agility, accuracy and also mental strength.

Fencing equipment, foil, epee and sabre (the weapons) and  protective gear such as jacket, plastron, glove, breeches, mask and specialized aluminium floor are expensive compared to other sports equipment. 

Though the Olympic sport started in 1974 in India, the Government of India recognised it only in 1997. It took over two decades for a fencer to represent India at the Olympics. 

Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi, a sabre fencer, is the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics in 2020, held in Tokyo this year due to Covid-19. 

Fencing was introduced in Srikakulam six years ago and it become one of the much sought after sport in the district now. 

Children from various parts of the region travel all the way to the town hall to learn fencing. After Taekwondo, several children have shown a keen interest for fencing.

Jogipati Vamsi, who was trained at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports in Patiala, has been conducting classes under the supervision of the senior instructor and State Taekwondo Association vice-president BSS Prasad Kumar alias Taekwondo Srinu, and Fencing Association Srikakulam district president Vaisyaraju Mohan. 

At least 80 children are learning fencing in the district and many of them have participated in State- and national-level competitions. At least 41 children, out of 73, have won medals in the recent inter-district sub-junior, cadet junior category for both boys and girls held in Kakinada. 

Seven among them have been selected for national-level competitions and will represent Andhra Pradesh in national-level competitions which will be held in the next few days. Girls have outnumbers boys in not just joining fencing classes but also in winning medals. 

Speaking to TNIE, 12-year-old Bandi Sireesha said, “I lost my father at a very young age. I joined fencing with my mother’s encouragement. She works as a sanitation worker in Srikakulam municipality. I have won a silver and two bronze medals in the State-level competitions and have been selected for national-level competitions. I am glad to have this opportunity for the first time.” 

Another fencer, V Jasmine (17) said, “I won one bronze medal at a national-level competition and four gold medals at the State-level in foil category. I have been selected for nationals again and am practising to bring home gold. I have two role models -- one is CA Bhavani Devi,  who entered the Olympics arena in fencing and the other is Karanam Malleswari. I have a dream to win a medal in the Olympics and I am confident that I will realise it.’’ 

Trainer Vamsi said they were getting good response in the district . “At least 80 girls and boys are learning the sport. Fencing is one of the five modern Olympic games that have sports quota reservation in both education and employment,’’ he said.  

Fencing will not just teach self-defense techniques but also discipline, and also help maintain good physical and mental health, the coach added. At least 12 students have landed government jobs and so many have secured seats for higher studies under sports quota in the recent years. 

“I wish sportspersons from the district excel in Fencing at the Olympics like Karanam Malleswari in weightlifting,’’ he hoped.

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