What happened in Tokyo, however, defied belief as the Indian golfer was placed second for three rounds with Nelly Korda, the world’s top-ranked player, and Rio medallist Lydia Ko.
When Aditi Ashok boarded the flight to Tokyo to take part in the women’s individual stroke play event at the Olympic Games, not many in India pinned much hope on her. The golfer from Bangalore, who had taken part in the Rio Olympics as an 18-year-old and finished 41st, was ranked 200 in the world and would be taking part in a field that included the who’s who of women’s golf.
What happened in Tokyo, however, defied belief as the Indian golfer was placed second for three rounds with Nelly Korda, the world’s top-ranked player, and Rio medallist Lydia Ko. The possibility that Aditi might return with a medal generated a buzz around golf never seen in the country. In the end, it was not to be as Aditi, with her mother acting as her caddie, losing out on bronze by a whisker and finishing in fourth.
In her own words, the key to her success was mental preparation and remaining unperturbed by the hype surrounding the Olympics. Aditi told IE Online that the difference with Rio was she was better prepared and also had the experience that allowed her to soak up the pressure and remained unperturbed.
When asked if the brief interruption on Saturday following a storm alert affected her final round performance, the golfer said they were lucky to have been able to play the fourth round. She added that it didn’t matter that she was second for a few rounds. Golf is played in four rounds and it is the result after that that matters.
She also said the probability of rain made it harder as the organisers had to adjust the time so that they could have better weather. This meant they had to start the final day very early.
Aditi added that the Olympic village was almost an hour-and-a-half from the venue and she had to wake up around 3.30-4 am every morning during the week, which was a bit tiring.
The golfer was also surprised by the support she received in her country with #AditiAshok becoming the top trend on Twitter from the wee hours of Saturday. She said she did not expect so many people to wake up early and watch golf, adding that that’s the great part about golf’s inclusion in the Olympics, which can bring new fans to the sport.
She also thanked fellow athletes such as Abhinav Bindra for their support. Aditi, who turned professional in 2016 and is the youngest Indian to have played in all of golf’s majors, now hopes more people take up the game and India to have a strong team for the 2024 Games in Paris.
The first Indian to win a title on the Ladies European Tour, Aditi has garnered a lot of attention already with her performances on the professional circuit. She is also a member of the LPGA Tour, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat. She is used to the pressure that comes with the game. However, she did shed a few tears when she realised that she had missed out on a medal in Tokyo.
She said she remained calm when she was playing, but realising that she didn’t win a medal at the end made her emotional. She said she gave it her all, but that wasn’t enough, adding that small margins decided golf.
However, she is also taking a lot of positives from her fourth-place finish. She has already jumped 46 places to 154 in the world rankings on the back of her performance in Tokyo. Now, she is travelling to Scotland for the Women’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links.