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How Aditi Ashok, world number 200, wakes up a country at 5am and watches golf

For three days, an Indian girl lifted the roof in a quiet corner of the suburbs of Tokyo. As she grabbed through the fourth day, sports fans in India – and NRIs and PIOs around the world – hooked up to watch for 5 hours, look up refreshing scores, birds and bogies and for five hours wonder what bunker they are in. in.

Aditi Ashok, 23 years old and in 200th place in the world, fought on a batting field before missing a birdie and fighting out of the medal in the last few holes. India during the Olympics and torturous finishes in fourth place is a recurring theme. Ashok now finds a place on it. But for an Indian golfer who comes so close to the medals, she has already sunk once in history.

This was her second Olympics. The first comes two months after she completes high school. She was the youngest golfer in the Rio field and hung two of the four rounds in the top eight before dropping out. Her social media then blew up overnight.

For the angry followers and even the first time watching the sport, Ashok’s pit game was a miracle to watch. Her reading of the greens is an envy among her peers. “She rolls it very nicely,” said Nelly Korda, the world number 1 who finished with gold for the USA, about her. “She has a kind of swag on the green and she owns it.”

Putting is almost a game on its own. And there’s a reason Ashok’s is so incredible: she learned the sport the other way around. As a five-year-old, she and her parents would eat breakfast in a restaurant overlooking a driving range in Bengaluru. None of them had practiced the sport before and thought of trying it for a lion. Since there were no golf clubs in her size, she got a cut-off putter. The first thing she learned then was not to break a ride, but to lower a putt.

She kept going back to fill in the other parts of the game. She would slowly gather the pieces, such as the puzzle of the 1000-piece Frank Lighthouse that she displayed on social media during the closing last year and proudly displayed on social media.

When she was growing up, she was a bit of an unusual teenager. “If Aditi had a problem with bunker shots, she would spend hours in the bunker until she found out,” former Indian golf amateur Nonita Lall Quereshi told ESPN. “She was so driven even as a young child. I do not know too many 12-year-olds who are willing to put such dedication into the game. She never really allowed the usual distraction that teenagers have in the be the way. “

By the time she was 13, she had started beating Indians. She becomes the second Indian woman to make the LPGA Tour and the first to win a European women’s title at the Indian Women’s Open.

For all her success, she was largely alone.

“Her parents have her back, so it was a sheltered existence for her,” Nonita adds. “Furthermore, there is little support. It is not easy to travel to another country every week after tournaments without a lot of support.”

Ashok usually has her father Gudlamani on her suitcase, but this time she chose her mother for the post. Although her father is the more technically healthy caddy, golfers sometimes just seek calm between the concentration cocoons in 72 rounds over four days.

The pandemic was a bit of a sandfall for Ashok. She was trapped in India during the confinement, and when she was hungry for access to the track and tournaments, she knocked irons off a foot mat in curtains hung on a washing line on the terrace of her home in Bangalore. She managed to practice slides and wells indoors, though there was no way she could hit drivers or wedges. She also gives a chance to practice ambition and practice writing words and sentences with her non-dominant left hand. She also contracted the virus herself in May, which caused some of her strength and affected the length of her shots.

“She was not worried about the extra meter or that everyone was bombarding it beyond her height,” says Nonita. “It’s quite a good way to look at it. She’s really focused and can appear like someone with a serious state of mind. Not many know, she’s quite an imitation.”

Between Rio and Tokyo, Ashok also made a spiritual leap. When she was a newcomer five years ago, as a seasoned fighter on the tour, she taught herself to stand up to almost any of the big names. Champika Sayal testifies to the graph. The Secretary-General of the Women’s Golf Association of India was present during Ashok’s Olympic debut in Rio.

“Earlier she would have tried too hard in the final round. Now she has overcome the pressure bug. She started enjoying her game, has some mental strength and the ability to fight back.”

After the third round on Friday, Ashok went to the Olympic Channel that although no one in India really expected her to be in a medal fight, she is trying to get out there. Eventually she falls just a little short, but not without perhaps drawing some sort of attention to her sport in India.

“This is great for women’s golf in India,” says Sayal. “When someone is made at home who comes so close to a medal, it changes the belief system. It is very different from watching Americans or Europeans doing well on the tour because we do not have what they have. In us we are “Aditi had to be home and not belong to courses. Aditi had children, parents and people who had never watched a round of golf in India, but is that incredible?”

This is Ashok’s way of telling her country why golf and its women players can do it with a little more love. To be doubly sure we were listening, she said it with a fight and a fourth place finish.

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