“Referee Was Not Fair”: Bhavani Devi Fumes After Asian Games 2023 Fencing Loss | Asian Games News

Bhavani Devi’s impressive run in the women’s sabre individual category at the Asian Games 2023 ended in the quarterfinals after she was defeated by China’s Yaqi Shao 7-15. It was a tough loss for her as she was just one match away from a maiden Asian Games medal and after the event, she alleged that the referee was not fair. “The referee was not fair with me in the beginning, he gave a quick series of 3-4 touches to the Chinese fencer which I was sure in my mind were actually my touches,” Bhavani told The Bridge.

“Our game is fast, you cannot give so many points away to someone so quickly. But it was my mistake too, I started worrying about things that were not in my control. A big deficit had been created and I could not make a comeback. I tried my best, so I have no regrets,” she added.

The fencer, who makes 15 touches first in a knock-out round, is adjudged winner and Shao sealed the issue in the second period without breaking a sweat.

Semifinalists are assured of at least a bronze medal in fencing, and the Tokyo Olympian would consider herself ‘unlucky’ pitted against the 2018 Asian Games silver medallist in the last-eight.

“I know this athlete is strong, because I’ve trained with her many times. But I think in the beginning the referee wasn’t right and I lost control of things a bit,” Bhavani said.

“I was a little bit disappointed because we train together.  I think it was also my mistake that I didn’t come back to my own actions, but fencing is so fast and you have to decide (things) quickly.”

In pursuit of a maiden Asian Games medal in fencing, the 30-year-old out-skilled all her five opponents to top the pool that gave her a bye to the pre-quarters where she overwhelmed Tonkhaw Phokaew 15-9.

She started off by beating her Singapore rival Juliet Jie Min Heng 5-2, and then out-skilled Saudi Arabia’s Alhsna Alhammad 5-1.

Against Karina Dospay, the Asian Championships bronze medal-winning Indian prevailed 5-3.

In her last two pool fixtures, she easily beat Uzbekistan’s Zaynab Dayibekova and Roksana Khatun of Bangladesh by identical 5-1 margins to top the pool. India will next compete in epee women and men foil team events.

“I’m really happy with what I’m doing in my career. I know it’s not easy for athletes like me to come to lots of competitions, (so) you need to make something of it. Its (been) good, but I want to go further. Now I have to try and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – I hope I can make that,” she said.

(With PTI inputs)

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