BENGALURU, Karnataka — Aditi Ashok, a 23-year-old golfer from Bengaluru, will represent India at the Tokyo Olympic Games scheduled to begin on 24 July, even as the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating.
The top 60 golf players in the world qualify for the Olympic Games. Ashok is currently ranked at 45 and is India’s top woman golfer.
Ashok, who was conferred the Arjuna award in 2020, was 18-years-old when she represented India at the Olympic Games at Rio in 2016, finishing 41 among 60 players. The two other Indian golfers competing in Tokyo will be Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane.
In this interview, Ashok, who is currently practising and participating in tournaments in the United States, shared what it feels like to qualify for two successive Olympic Games, while contending with the harsh realities of the Covid-19 pandemic.
How does you feel about being the first female Indian Golfer to take part in Tokyo 2020?
Last year, I received the Arjuna Award and this year, I qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo. It’s been a great journey so far. It’s an honour and an opportunity to do my best on the world’s biggest stage. I became the first female Indian golfer to take part in Olympics at Rio in 2016. So this time, I would say that I am the first female Indian golfer to take part in two Olympic Games.
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to being part of the biggest sporting event in the world. The challenges this time are Covid-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns. I could not practice at all in India because of lockdown in Bangalore from last week of April to early June. Now, I am in the USA, playing tournaments and practicing as much as possible before I head to Tokyo.
I am looking forward to being part of the biggest sporting event in the world. The challenges this time are Covid-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Any changes in strategy from Rio?
Rio was an amazing week and experience. I did well on the first two days but didn’t play great on the final two days. Now, I am five years older and more mature in terms of playing the game. That will surely help. The strategy would be to perform to the best of my ability on all four days and give my 100%.
I am five years older and more mature in terms of playing the game.
How did Covid-19 hurt your plans in 2020?
I play professionally on two tours LPGA (in USA) and LET (in Europe). When Covid-19 hit in 2020, the whole world came to halt. The Olympic Games got postponed. The traveling became very challenging with all the restrictions. 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. During this time, I focused more on my fitness and conditioning, practiced my swing on my terrace. After the second wave and India getting red flagged, traveling from country to country is a huge challenge. I am doing the best I can in the given situation.
After the second wave and India getting red flagged, traveling from country to country is a huge challenge. I am doing the best I can in the given situation.
Your message to the country?
All the athletes are trying their best to win medals. I hope Indians enjoy watching the Olympic Games and encourage more children to pick up sports.