Road to Rio: Aditi Ashok, India's teen golf sensation, carrying nation's hopes on Olympic debut
All of 18, pro golfer Aditi Ashok has already made her mark on Indian sport in a big way and is all set to be India's sole woman golfer at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Name: Aditi Ashok
Qualification: Aditi qualified on the basis of the Olympic criteria of players being eligible based on the world rankings. According to the criteria, a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15 are selected.
Strengths: Aditi's biggest strength is her extensive experience of playing on tour as she first represented India at the age of 12 and has previously played in Asian Youth Games, Youth Olympic Games, and Asian Games.
Past Olympic performance: Debut
Past record: Youngest to win the Tour School at 17
-First India to compete at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in 2015
-Youngest and first Indian to win LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School 2016
-Only Indian golfer to have played the Asian Youth Games (2013) Youth Olympic Games (2014) and Asian Games (2014)
-First Asian to win the 2015 St. Rule Trophy and Lawson Trophy (St Andrews Links)
-First Indian to win the 81st Singha Thailand Amateur 2015 (Panya Indra GC)
-Youngest winner of WGAI’s professional tournament in 2011 at 13 years 5 months
-Three-time National Junior Champion for 2014, 2013, 2012 and a two-time National Amateur Champion for 2014, 2011.
Rio Prospects: Aditi does not have a very strong chance for a medal, as she will be up against much senior and expected players. However, she does have the potential to spring a surprise at the Olympics.
At the young age of 18, Aditi Ashok has already made her mark on Indian sport in a big way. The teen will be India's only woman golfer at Rio 2016, when the sport makes it return to the Olympics after 112 years. However, the youngster has a major advantage as she has previously represented India at the Asian Youth Games in 2013, Youth Olympic Games in 2014, and Asian Games in 2014.
Aditi turned pro only early in 2016 and the Full Member of Ladies European Tour. At Rio, she will face some of the most illustrious members of the tour. But she will be confident on her Olympics debut as she has already notched up an impressive list of credentials.
Aditi has six international wins, 17 titles including five Low Amateur finishes in LPGA/LET events.
She is the youngest to win the Tour School at the age of 17. She is also the youngest and first Indian to win LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School 2016 with the lowest winning score of 23 under par. She became the first from India to compete at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in 2015 where she took low amateur honors in finishing T-42. She also equaled the men’s course record and set a new women’s course record with her career’s lowest round of 10 under par on Samanah Country Club. She is the first Asian to win the 2015 St. Rule Trophy and Lawson Trophy (St Andrews Links) and the first Indian to win the 81st Singha Thailand Amateur 2015 (Panya Indra GC). She is also the youngest winner of WGAI’s professional tournament in 2011 at only 13. In addition, Aditi is a three-time National Junior Champion and a two-time National Amateur Champion. Aditi also became only the second Indian after Simi Mehra to play the Women's British Open in July 2016.
It would only be fair to call Aditi a child prodigy. She started learning golf at the age of five, played her first round at the age of six and has been playing for the last 12 years, according to her official website. She has been playing for Team India since she was 12 years old, and is all set to represent the country at her first Olympics. A product of the Bangalore Golf Club and Karnataka Golf Association, she is now coached by Steven Giuliano from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and her strength and conditioning coach is Nicolas Cabaret from France.
The youngster is an extremely talented golfer, as is evident from her list of achievements. And her passion for the game gives her an added advantage. "I just love playing golf. It's been my dream ever since I was a kid... I'm going to try and do my best every week and and build my career from there," she said last year before turning pro. It is this passion that will give her a solid platform for her future, even if her youth and lack of experience means she is not a strong medal contender.
While she may she may not be among the medals at Rio, the Olympic experience will be invaluable for the 18-year-old and she will endevour to make the best of it.
With inputs from agencies
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