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The 23-year-old Indian golfer Aditi Ashok is all set to make her second appearance in the Olympics. For a sport as rare as golf in India, Aditi's consecutive selection makes her an inspiration for women golfers in the country. She is the third Indian golfer to make it to the Tokyo Olympics after her male counterparts Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane. At the age of 19, she competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics as the youngest woman golfer.
What started as a family activity at the age of five has now led her to represent the country twice in the Olympics. Aditi played her first match at the Bangalore Golf Club as a six-year-old and soon she was playing for other junior tournaments. She told The New Indian Express how she enjoyed competing against the boys and defeating them. This Arjuna awardee proved her potential when at the age of 12 she competed under 18 and amateur categories instead of under 13 or 15. "All the success I had in my junior and amateur days both at the national and international levels made me believe in my decision of turning professional," said Aditi.
Balancing the career in sports and studies was a challenge for her but she credits her school, The Frank Anthony Public School, and her friends who supported and helped her strike that balance.
For a sport that has a thin pool of talent in India, Aditi's selection in consecutive Olympics is a ray of hope for Indian golfers. Veterans in the field like Smriti Mehra believe that Aditi can be the inspiration the country needs. "Golf is still an exclusive sport and not an inclusive one," Mehra said in a report by The Deccan Herald. True to her words, Women's golf in India is rarer to say so. Mehra further stated that Indian Golf Union (IGU) should take initiative to spread the game and to make the game open to the entire country and not the selected sections of society.
Aditi has managed to shed light on the opportunities the sport can provide however one cannot deny she is self-made and had very limited support from authorities. Her mark in the Olympics can help golf in India see a brighter future.
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