At 18 years and four months, India’s Aditi Ashok was the youngest golfer at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Five years later, she has qualified for her second successive Olympic Games which will be held this month in Tokyo. Aditi finished 45th on the qualifying list on Tuesday to make the cut for Tokyo Games.
For the 23-year-old, who took up the sport at the age of six and turned professional in January 2016, participating in the Olympics is akin to featuring in the magnum opus of all sporting events
“I am honoured to represent my country for the second time at the Olympic Games. I was confident that I would make it to the Tokyo Olympic women’s golf roster. Now the strategy would be to perform to the best of my ability on all four days and give my 100 percent,” said Aditi, the youngest Indian golfer (male or female) to have played all majors.
Recalling her previous experience at the Olympics, Aditi believes it is something that will surely help her perform better this time. “Rio was an amazing week. I did well on the first two days but didn’t play great on the final two days. But now I am five years older and more mature in terms of playing the game and I am sure the experience will help me,” she said.
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In another change, unlike 2016, where her father Ashok Gudlamani was her caddie, this time it is her mother who will be caddying for her at the Olympics.
At the 2016 #Olympics, Ashok had her father caddie for her in Rio.
— Olympic Golf (@OlympicGolf) August 5, 2021
However, there have been a few bumps on the road to Tokyo for the Bengaluru-based golfer. Covid-19 induced lockdowns last year hampered Aditi’s practice sessions. But she had her own way of overcoming the odds.
“I play professionally on two tours LPGA (in the USA) and LET (in Europe). When Covid hit in 2020, the whole world came to halt. Just to stay safe, I chose not to play the whole year except for a few weeks in the end. All the golfing facilities were closed in Bangalore. Generally, it was a tough year for everyone.,” recalled Aditi.
“During this time I focused more on my fitness and conditioning. I did practice my swing on my terrace,” said Aditi, who is also the first player from the country to win the Ladies British amateur stroke-play championship at Leeds.
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As of now, Aditi is in the USA where she is putting in all the hard work and looking forward to being part of the biggest sporting event in the world.
“The challenges this time are covid travel restrictions and lockdowns. This year, I could not practice at all in India because of the lockdown in Bangalore from the last week of April to early June. But now I am back in the USA playing tournaments and practicing as much as possible before I head to Tokyo,” she said.
Analysing her performance in 2021, she said, “So far this year I started with 6 tournaments on the LPGA at the beginning of the year, those weren’t too great or bad either. So after getting back to the USA I’ve played these last two tournaments, would probably play three or maybe four more events before the Olympics. Hopefully, these next four are good preparation for the Olympics and help me build some momentum.”
On Tuesday, teen shooting sensation Manu Bhaker revealed that he will be switching off from social media till the end of the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her preparation and performance in the Games.
But Aditi is mentally prepared for her sojourn and in fact, sees it as a tool to make Golf popular in India.
“I don’t post that often to use social media as much. I’m there to post and not really on it and scrolling. So I haven’t really thought about disconnecting,” said Aditi.
“I think it’s great to make use of this opportunity with golf in the Olympics and make the sport popular, especially being an Indian and a girl where the sport isn’t as popular for girls in India and it should become more popular and the Olympics can help that by generating social media attention then I think better to make use of that,” she concluded.
2015: Winner of Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco.
2016: Rookie of the Year on LET
2017: Youngest Indian golfer (male or female) at 19 years to have played all majors
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2018: No. 2, Putting Average, LPGA (28.67)
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