No Indian fencer in Paris, as Bhavani loses in semis and Taniksha in finals

A photograph capturing the moment.

India will go unrepresented in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games fencing competition, despite a gallant attempt by Taniksha Khatri in the women’s epee final, moments after Bhavani Devi was upset in the women’s sabre semifinal in the Asia-Oceania Zonal Olympic Qualifier 2024 in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Taniksha kept the country’s hopes alive. She was the only Indian to make it to the final. She fought hard against Singapore’s Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman but lost 13-15. She kept clawing back and did not allow her higher-ranked opponent to run away with a big lead.

The Karnal-based Taniksha, who lost in the Asian Games quarterfinals and is World No. 92, caught the eye with her tactics of not allowing the World No. 64 to use the width of the piste. She often ventured into the Singaporean’s half and earned rewards, but after tying the scores at 13-13, she was unable to stop her rival from making the two critical touches.

Earlier, clouds of gloom loomed over the Indian camp as Bhavani bowed out of the women’s sabre competition at the semifinal stage, conceding five points in a row to Chu Wing Kiu of Hong Kong after opening up a 12-10 lead. At No. 33, Bhavani Devi was the highest ranked fencer in the competition and the favourite to claim the women’s sabre ticket to Paris 2024.

The Hong Kong fencer found her way through to earn five successive touches to turn the tables. At critical times, Chu used her longer reach and dexterity to nullify Bhavani’s speed and earn points. There were times in the final moments when the Indian believed she had pierced her rival’s defence only to find herself in a fix.

Taniksha Khatri (women’s epee)

Quarterfinals: Beat Hung Li Hsiang (Chinese Taipei) 15-10.

Semifinals: Beat Dilnaz Murzataeva (Uzbekistan) 15-11.

Final: Lost to Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman (Singapore) 13-15.

Bhavani Devi’s (women’s sabre)

Pool 1: Beat Ruba Almasri (Saudi Arabia) 5-1; beat Chu Wing Kiu (Hong Kong) 5-1; beat Juliet Jie Min Heng (Singapore) 5-3; beat Ghala Ba Dehidoh (Yemen) 5-0.

Quarterfinals: Beat Juliet Jie Min Heng (Singapore) 15-8.

Semifinals: Lost to Chu Wing Kiu (Hong Kong) 12-15.

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