New Delhi, 26 March 2022: She came, she saw, she enthralled. Bhavani Devi inspired in her own simple way an audience representing 750 students across Chennai on Friday. This was a continuation of the ‘Meet the Champion’ event, a brainchild of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and jointly organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Education.

Bhavani, the first-ever fencer to represent India at the sport in Olympics, spoke on the topic of ‘Santulit Aahar’ – balanced diet, sport and fitness, sharing anecdotes of her own humble beginnings and what she did to reach this stage of her life. The Tokyo 2020 Olympian stood 23rd in Istanbul earlier this month, thus registering her best-ever finish in a Fencing World Cup.

There were tears of joy at meeting a history-maker, bursts of anger for not being able to click a selfie with her and many other such emotions, and who better than Bhavani herself to put across how energetic the crowd was at the MCC Higher Secondary School in Chennai. “The energy from the students was amazing. They were all ready to listen and this allowed me to speak and the interaction went so well. Not just the students but the teachers as well. I could see the positive vibes in their eyes!” exclaimed Bhavani.

“Meet the Champion is a wonderful idea. Sports and nutrition are very important and this is how we can spread awareness, especially to the students because they are the next generation. They will pass this info over to the other generations,” commented Bhavani on the initiative. “Definitely, it will bring more passionate youngsters and will help them understand the importance of sports, fitness and nutrition in day to day life.”

Bhavani, set for a return to France for training in a couple of days, spoke on not just balanced nutrition and fitness but also anecdotes from her life on how she started playing, how she experienced competing in Tokyo, her hurdles in life and so on. She also played badminton with the school students post the interaction. “It was a great feeling and is a pleasure to play with her,” mentioned Pratiksha, a student of class 12 and a promising badminton player of the school.

Shivani, also a Class 12 science student, put across the entire experience brilliantly. “She is a really down to earth person who is also so very informative. She is a wonder woman for all us girls and she inspired not just me but all close to 1000 students and teachers present today.”

“The biggest lesson I want to take forward from her is the sportiness. Even though she didn’t make it beyond the second round in the Tokyo Olympics, I liked the fact that she graciously moved forward and is still working hard and she still says that she wants to work harder. I so want to become like her!”