Kolkata: Aditi Ashok, the Indian golfer, might just be missing out on the euphoria around the Olympians on their return from Tokyo - but there is no mistaking the ripples which she had created thousands of miles away at the LPGA Tour of USA.
‘‘Ashok was Rocky Balboa of these Olympic Games, the player plucked from obscurity that everyone thought would be a punching bag for the champ. Instead, we got a 15-round slugfest that brought fans to their feet,’’ wrote Steve Eubanks, Editor of LPGA Tour as the world No.200 finished an agonising fourth on the last day of Olympic competition. This weekend, it’s business as usual for her at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open.
In a country consumed by cricket, though there is hope that there could be a renewed interest in hockey as well as athletics (after Neeraj Chopra gave them their first Olympics gold in track & field), the 23-year-old made her presence felt by punching above her weight. Aditi’s Twitter following grew 204% during the Olympics while her Instagram following exploded by 873%.
“I think it has been amazing, the amount of people that have shown support and tuned in to the last day and even the third day (of Olympic golf) because people weren’t really going to, people don’t really watch a lot of golf in India,” she said. “To have so many people tune in was amazing and I’m thankful for the support. With my finish, with big superstars in sports in India tweeting about it and the Prime Minister and President tweeting about it, it was awesome and cool to see that my performance at the Olympics had such a big effect on golf in India and people hearing about it and Googling it.
“Obviously, you don’t think a fourth place at a regular tournament is ever going to do that. It shows how much golf in the Olympics can grow the sport, especially in India where the population is huge, but the golf community is very small.
The LPGA Tour editor’s comparison of her with Balboa must have been on cue with the golfer’s own observation about her campaign, when she felt like a “flyweight boxer buzzing circles around the heavyweights” at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Describing herself in second person, Aditi tweeted, “She was the flyweight boxer buzzing circles around the heavyweights. She was the rowing team with balsa wood for paddles. If she was in shooting, her weapon of competition would have been a BB gun... This comparison has me (Face with tears of joy emoji) #roomforimprovement #sadbuttrue.”
A Indian fan gave Aditi the ultimate tribute, tweeting, “Thanks Aditi we still don’t understand terminology of #Golf but try(ing) to understand just because of you (Folded hands symbol).”
“You were so damn awesome; your journey will be celebrated for years to come. We all r proud of you. Just because of you people back in #India had their eyes glued on tv sets to watch #golf a sport in which majority of the nation only knows #TigerWoods!,” tweeted another fan.
- With inputs from IANS