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“Coming 4th at the Olympics kind of sucks,” said Aditi Ashok after losing the chance to not only become the first Indian but also the youngest to get this close to winning an Olympic medal for India in the sport of Golf.
As Neeraj Chopra brought India’s first Gold medal in athletics, she too could have pioneered the same for Golf.
For all those trolling her for speaking out and expressing her disappointment, put yourself in her shoes and you would understand her state of mind currently.
Those who fell were the ones who dared and dreamt of flying.
The proverb perfectly fits the 23 years old Aditi Ashok, who grabbed the attention of everyone as she finished 4th at the Tokyo Olympics.
Although some people might opine that what is so special about a Golfer who didn’t even win a medal.
To all those people, give us the honour to enlighten you with some facts.
Firstly, with Aditi Ashok finishing 4th in a sport like Golf is by far the best performance of our nation in Golf.
Secondly, in spite of the doubts raised upon her capabilities prior to the game, an improvement from her 2016 Olympic performance is evidentiary enough to prove her mettle.
Having spent nearly the whole tournament in second place and boosting hopes of a podium finish, Indian golfer Aditi Ashok was disappointed. She could have become the first Indian Golfer to win a medal at the Olympics but fate had something altogether different in hold for her and she missed the chance of standing on the podium by a single shot!
After six hours of thrilling stroke-play, when Aditi Ashok finished her turn, her fate was now in the hands of New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.
And to everyone’s dismay, Ko didn’t miss, ending Ashok’s journey at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
In this article, we would be briefly summing up Aditi’s journey from finishing 41th at Rio Olympics 2016 to finishing 4th at the Summer Olympics 2020.
Besides that,we would be discussing a few changes that if incorporated, could have increased the chances of Aditi Ashok winning a medal.
About Aditi Ashok, early days and immeasurable support from parents
At the age of 5 how many of us played sports while understanding its actual importance?
The answer is, and we think you might have guessed it too, that the majority of us weren’t indulged in sports activities actively back then.
It was more like a recreational activity which without a doubt holds its importance, but the fact is that many of us weren’t made aware of its benefits and career options.
Unfortunately, in India still the orthodox thinking sometimes overpowers the progressive one. As a consequence of which, a considerable number of parents and guardians don’t even initiate a discussion about the importance of sports.
In Aditi Ashok’s case, the situation was completely opposite. She was introduced to the sport, Golf, when she was 5 years old. Belonging from Bangalore, where only three golf courses were available when she started her journey of Golf.
Owing to which, her father Mr. Ashok Gudlamani took her to the Karnataka Golf Association driving range to ensure that she doesn’t stop her practice because of the lack of approachability to the Golf Course.
A family which was never interested in sports was vicariously playing Golf through their daughter, Aditi.
As discussed earlier, Aditi Ashok made her first appearance in the Olympics in 2016.
In the 2016 RIO Olympics, she was caddied by her Father however, this year Maheswari Ashok was her Caddie.
For our readers, a caddie is a person present on the golf course and assists the Golfer through carrying their kit and boosting their morale, as and when required.
Highlights of her Golf career
In 2016, when Golf was reintroduced in the Olympics, Aditi Ashok, then 18, became the youngest Golfer to feature at Olympics.
Currently, Aditi is ranked 200th in the world and actively participates in the LPGA tours, a series of tournaments organized by the American organization, Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) for the best female golfers in the world.
Besides LPGA, Aditi is also well known for her participation and 3 wins in the Ladies European Tour, often abbreviated as LET.
Aditi Ashok won her first state titles when she was 13 years old, the Karnataka Junior and South Indian Junior Championships. Besides that, in the very same year she also won the National Amateur Championship.
By and By, Aditi started proving her mettle at such a young age through winning the National Junior Championships three years consecutively in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In 2013, she became the first and only Indian golfer to compete in the Asian Youth Games, the Youth Olympics, and the Asian Games.
Aditi transformed from an amateur player to a professional when she won the Ladies British Amateur Stroke Play Championship in 2016, before the Olympics.
Challenges faced by Aditi Ashok at Tokyo Olympics
COVID has affected almost every part of our society. It would be unfair on our part if we neglect its impact on the performance of not just Aditi Ashok, but every player in the Indian contingent and other global contingents.
When the second wave of COVID had hit India, Aditi Ashok happened to visit India just before her LPGA Mediheal Championship to fulfill her visa requirements. However, she contracted the virus and tested positive for COVID-19, thereby making it impossible for her to leave as she had expected.
Consequently, she had to skip the LPGA Mediheal Championship.
Some of the challenges, that Aditi Ashok confessed, included her distant accommodation from the Golf course and grievances about the TOPS scheme.
At the Olympics, she was staying at Games Village which was 75kms from the golf course.
Aditi, who should have been resting and storing her energy, was compelled to get up at 3 AM and travel 75kms to reach the Golf Course in Tokyo.
Although her disappointment is quite evident from her recent interviews, she feels that her performance could have been better, provided her accommodation was near the Golf course.
Aditi Ashok firmly believes that funding from the government really didn’t help golfers. It is so because the TOPS(Target Olympic Podium Scheme)funding for the player’s comes into action only once the athlete qualifies for Olympics. As Aditi Ashok qualified only 60 days before the Olympics, it really didn’t help her.
Aditi with her performance has definitely set the bars high and everybody seems to be counting on her for the 2024 Paris Olympics. A 23 year old girl, who trained without a coach and still managed to almost finish with silver, can definitely end up with gold in Paris Olympics 2024 if things go right for her.