Hyderabad: Before the Tokyo Olympics last year, not many Indians were aware of the sport of fencing. With Chennai’s Bhavani Devi scripting history by becoming the first Indian to qualify for the mega events, the game got a big boost in terms of popularity, inspiring many youngsters to pick up the game.
Even before the game gained popularity in the country, a family hailing from Bangarigadda village of Chandur mandal in Nalgonda district dedicated their life to the game. All three children of Shaik Hussain, an RTC bus driver, are into the sport.
Meet the siblings Shaik Fouzia, Shaik Naziya and Shaik Eliyasoddin, who took to the sport at a young age at the Telangana State Sports School, Hakimpet. It was 19-year-old Fouzia who started the trend in the family when she picked up the sword. “My father always liked uniform jobs like police, army or defence. He tried for the constable job four times but could not clear it. With constant financial problems, our father wanted a better and more settled life for us. I got into the sports school in Class IV. Initially, I began with weightlifting. But with not so impressive results, I decided to shift my game to fencing which interested me,” revealed Fouzia who is into the Foil event.
“Once I started fencing while studying in Class VII, I knew it was the game for me. Our coach Tukaram sir was also one of the reasons I took to fencing. He used to teach us well. Two years later, my sister Naziya and four years later my brother Eliyasoddin followed the same path,” said the BSc (Electronics) final year student of the Nizam College. Fouzia, who has competed in several nationals and won bronze medal in senior nationals and silver in junior nationals, put the game on hold and preparing to become an army officer.
“With not many facilities available in the city after coming out of the sports school, I am now preparing to join the army in the officer rank. Once I join the services, I can get good facilities and can train. My goal is to play for the country,” she revealed.
Naziya, the 17-year-old more successful fencer in the family, said her sister was her inspiration. “I started fencing because of my sister. My father was very supportive and he never showed any discrimination among the three of us. Despite our relatives and others opposing my father constantly, he never paid heed to it. So three of us took to the same sport,” said Naziya, who completed her intermediate second year.
Naziya has competed in three international events and won a team silver at the Asian Championship held at Tashkent, Uzbekistan in March this year. She also secured 26th rank in the individual cadet category. She then competed in the Doha Epee Grand Prix and World Championship in Dubai this year.
Naziya is currently in Aurangabad training at the Sports Academy of India (SAI) Academy. “My dream is to win an Olympic medal for the country. I am working hard on my game and will give everything to realise my dream,” she added.
The youngest of the lot, Eliyasoddin, who is a Class X student at the sports school, won a silver medal in the mini nationals. “Since both of us are into fencing, it became easy for him to pick up the game,” said Fouzia.
Fencing is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines are the foil, the epee, and the sabre. Winning points are made through the weapon’s contact with an opponent.
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