KOCHI: On the opening day of the fencing competition at CIAL convention centre, the talking point was the sabre skills of Kerala’s C A Bhavani Devi. True to everyone’s expectations, the fencer lunged her way into a gold medal for the state, with hardly any sweat.
However, it was Kerala’s K Bibish that elicited the loudest applause from team members and competitors alike, as he scripted history with a bronze medal in foil category for individual men. It took the blade of a 10th standard student from SRV School here to finally break the jinx that has been haunting the Kerala fencers for the past 15 years.
“This is the first time since 2000 that we have won a medal in the Kerala men’s individual section. The kid is an extraordinary talent, and at such a young age. He may be the youngest medal winner yet,” said an ecstatic coach V K Sheeja after the victory. Hailing from a humble background, entry into fencing was a necessity, never a choice, for the 16-year-old from Kanyakumari who made it big in his first opportunity in the National Games.
“He had started training with us only a year back. He put in his best, training hard to win the medal for his father, who is suffering from an aggravated injury after a bike accident. There is even talk of amputation,” said Kerala coach Jijo Nidhi.
That determination was seen in his grip and glide and Bibish advanced to the semi finals almost like a breeze. The coaches of his rivals went into a tizzy, as he gave Maharashtra’s L Tomba Singh a run for his money in the semifinals. Even though he lost 15-11 in the semis, the youngster was given a standing ovation. “His opponent was an international level fencer. He really started to sweat when the game reached 8-10,” said coach Sheeja.
Born to Rajeswari and Kadiresan, the budding talent was first discovered by coach S Amrutraj, and the boy accompanied his brother Velmurugan to Kerala.
“I stay at the sports hostel in Panampilly Nagar. When there is school, I train in early mornings and late evenings. During the National Games fencing camp, my training routine was even more rigorous, touching on 6-7 hours every day. My dream is to move on to Army Sports Institute in Pune and brush up my game there,” said the teenager.