Indian golfer Aditi Ashok missed the medal by a whisker at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. The 23-year-old finished at a remarkable fourth position with an aggregate score of 15-under 269 over four rounds in the womens individual strokeplay competition.She finished two shots behind gold-medal winner Nelly Korda of the US. She was also just a shot behind Mone Inami of Japan and New Zealand's Lydia Ko, who won silver and bronze medals respectively.Going into the competition, Aditi, ranked 200th in the world, wasn't even in the reckoning for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. However, the youngster produced stunning performances on all four days of the competition, matching some of the world's best golfers.
Excerpts from an interview to IGF after the match:
Q: Tough luck. You tried your hardest all day. Didn't quite go your way; just sum up the day for us.
Aditi: I think today I didn't really drive the ball very good and then it's hard to get birdie putts or hit greens when you're not in the fairway. So, that was definitely the hardest part to make a score today.
Q. You were well within that race for the top 3. The 15th hole perhaps that is where things slipped out and then the 16th (Ko) Lydia (New Zealand, who won bronze) again had a bogey.
Aditi: Yeah, I mean 15 was okay, it was nothing, I mean I was just scrambling, I was in between clubs so I hit one more and it went over. But I don't think it was that bad. I still made a par, so it's fine. But just generally like 15 also I missed the fairway so I was just missing so many fairways. The front nine I just hit one and I think the back nine I must have hit maybe a couple more, maybe three or four more. So, that was what was bad today, kind of put me out of position so I couldn't get close to the flag.
Q: I'm sure you would be focused here, but almost all of India was watching golf at 3 in the morning today. What were your emotions going into the round today?
Aditi: I mean going into the round I didn't think about it much, it was fine, but obviously coming in I tried my best to hole the last few putts and just knowing because in a regular tournament whether you finish second or fourth it really doesn't matter, no one cares. But at this event, you need to be in the top 3. I didn't leave anything out there, I think I gave it my hundred per cent, but, yeah, fourth at an Olympics where they give out three medals kind of sucks.
Q: Talk about the putt on 17 and the 18th hole?
Aditi: Yeah, 17 was perfect. I hit it exactly the speed I wanted, the line I wanted, I just -- maybe I made too many through the four rounds, golfing gods were like, okay, we're not going to give her this one. But no, I just tried my best, even the last hole, although it was really out of range, it was almost a long putt, but I still tried to give it a chance. So yeah, I think I gave it my best attempt.
Q. Are you conscious of the fact that a lot of Indian sporting legends have also finished fourth at the Olympics?
Aditi: No, I didn't know that actually obviously now that I've joined that not so -- you don't want to join that club. But yeah, I guess I've joined it. But no I think it's good, just even top-5 or top-10 at an Olympics is really good. Because you know that sport or that person has a medal chance. So just having more top finishes, even if it's not exactly a podium finish, will maybe bring eyes to the sport and more support, more kids pick up more, whatever, that helps grow the game.
Q. Can you share a message of inspiration for youngsters back home in India to pick up golf perhaps after your performance this week?
Aditi: Yeah, sure, obviously when I started golf I never dreamt of being or contending at the Olympics, golf wasn't even an Olympic sport. So sometimes you just pick it up and work hard and have fun every day and sometimes you get here.