Fret not Aditi for you’ve stoked a fire at Tokyo

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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.

Through the Tokyo Olympics, Aditi Ashok’s putting held, but more importantly, the mind was in the right place. The two aspects, so critical at sport’s highest level, were so apparent that even foreign commentators often oblivious to an Indian athlete’s efforts were left gushing over her poise.

 

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A lot has been said and written about Aditi’s transformation from a wide-eyed 18-year-old making her Olympic debut at Rio de Janeiro five years ago to a rock-solid contender at the Kasumigaseki Country Club this week. But what will probably be lost in the chatter on the near miss and the fourth finish are some hard stats.

 

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The 23-year-old was the best on the greens from 10 feet and a little more, which made up for relative lack of distance off the tee. On a golf course where reading the greens was tough, Aditi signed a card of 3-under 68 compared to gold medallist Nelly Korda’s 69 on this par-71 layout.

 

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Even beyond her realm of strength on the greens, Aditi did not struggle, it was just that 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th did not go in. Call it competition pressure, or rather Olympic pressure. As it is said, an Olympic medal is not earned, it has to be won.

Also Read: ‘When you work hard…..sometimes you get there’

Wading through the talk of Aditi joining the select band of elite Indian athletes who have finished fourth at the Olympics or on other sporting platforms, some thought should go into the impact of this result on golf’s standing in our society. I experienced it first hand. A handful of relatives, oblivious of the nuances of the sport, who watched the final-round action, are now aware and eager to soak in more.

Looking at the broader picture, Aditi’s finish, a first for an Indian golfer at the Olympics, should be a shot in the arm for a sport that’s not more than a speck on the nation’s fabric.

It is hoped a spark has been lit and that the sport will be embraced and not scoffed at. Golf might not be a sport of the masses yet, but Aditi, our protagonist, has shown that curiosity and dreaming big can make magic happen.

Photo and videos: Sundeep Verma

Readmore:- A champion on a young and modern golf course