Aditi Ashok opens up on Tokyo heartbreak

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Aditi Ashok's lionhearted performance will surely impact national consciousness and golf as a sport in a cricket-mad country.
Aditi Ashok's lionhearted performance will surely impact national consciousness and golf as a sport in a cricket-mad country.

A storm was brewing inside but none of it was apparent as Aditi Ashok quietly went about the task of negotiating the challenges on the final day of the Olympic women’s golf competition. An Olympic medal was at stake which made the routine task special as well as tougher. A nation oblivious to the happenings on a golf course had also taken note and woken up early on Saturday to watch possible history being created, and Aditi was not immune to the sentiment.

She was a picture of poise, which did not go unnoticed, but so was her level of play which got her in a position where she could challenge for India’s first medal in the sport since golf made a return to the Olympics five years ago at Rio de Janeiro. Aditi was there too as a wide-eyed 18-year-old first-time Olympian and had made the world sit up and take note with her initial top-10 run.

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At the Kasumigaseki Country Club on the outskirts of Tokyo, the script unfolded differently for one wiser in years and experience. Contending with the world’s best on the LPGA Tour week in and week out had toughened her and that showed as she held her own in a way that she was in pole position a couple of times, especially in the initial phase of the final day.

Nelly Korda’s prolific run ensured gold would be out of reach but a silver/bronze was always within reach. Aditi played towards that objective and was well within her objective till the last two holes. Missing out on bronze by a shot “sucked as only the top-three positions get a medal”, and her tweet too said as much. But despite feeling let down, Aditi had made a point that got the nation talking.

Public memory is short and the hope that golf may get a look-in and climb the sporting heirarchy after this may level out with time, but till then every golfer and the sport’s followers will be praying hard it does not happen and that Aditi has actually made a difference.

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