Relook on official support to golfers during Olympics will help

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Anirban Lahiri (left) and Udayan Mane at the Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic men's golf competition. Photo: IGF/PGA Tour
Anirban Lahiri (left) and Udayan Mane at the Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic men's golf competition. Photo: IGF/PGA Tour

Anirban Lahiri is not one to wash dirty linen in public, but after the Rio Olympics, he was quietly regretful of the logistical support golfers received in the build-up to the Games.

Golf was making a return to the Olympics after 112 years in 2016 and care should have been taken about golf’s unique status and the players’ special needs given the week in and week out travel of these professional athletes and better coordination between them and the official machinery.

There were three of them in Rio, SSP Chawrasia, Anirban, and of course Aditi Ashok, an 18-year-old talent, who made heads turn then and came close to India’s first medal in golf less than a week ago at the Tokyo Olympics.

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While poor logistical support was not given as an excuse for the below-par show at Rio by Anirban, he got wiser from the experience of dealing with red tape. In a interview beforee the Tokyo Olympics, he made it clear that after Rio he had made up his mind that should he feature in another edition of the Olympics he would leave nothing to chance and take care of preparations personally.

But still, backend support is needed at a time when an athlete’s focus is on performance rather than worrying about extraneous things. This time too, there were issues specially how the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) worked out for Anirban, Aditi and Udayan Mane ahead of Tokyo.

In an interview to a TV channel after that heart-breaking miss last Saturday, Aditi had hoped better logistics may have made a difference, and it is in cases such as this that legwork by the mandarins comes in handy.

Paris 2024 is three years away, and hopefully we will have Indian golfers putting up a spirited show again. Just that, like Rio and Tokyo, they do not come back with the regret of what the official machinery could have been better while being snugly ensconced in the corridors of power.

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