Olympic postponement not stopping Aditi Ashok from preparations at another run

Randall Mell
Golf Channel

Her dream couldn’t be contained at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro four years ago.

Aditi Ashok, India’s teen wunderkind, was the talk of her sport, unexpectedly soaring into a share of the lead during the second round of the women’s golf competition.

Today, her dream of returning to the Summer Games is officially locked down.

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India prime minster Narendra Modi went on national television Tuesday to impose strong, new restrictions on the nation’s 1.3 billion residents in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” he said. “The entire country will be in lockdown, total lockdown.”

The news came shortly before the International Olympic Committee and the government of Japan announced that the Summer Games in Tokyo will be postponed.

Tokyo Olympics postponed one year because of virus outbreak

It was a long day for Ashok.

“It’s disappointing to have to wait another year to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics . . . but I’m glad the decision has been made,” Ashok informed GolfChannel.com in an online chat. “It was only a matter of time as health and safety is always the most important thing, and it’s better to err on the side of caution. Hopefully, when we do compete, we can think of performing at the highest level and not worry about COVID-19. I will keep preparing at home and working hard.”

Ashok, 21, will be challenged to do that as she waits for the virus to run its course and the LPGA to return to action. She is going to go a month or so without stepping on a golf course. The two golf courses where she practices in Bangalore have been closed for a week. The lockdown will extend for the next 21 days.

“Even the gym is closed, so I have to work out at home, which is still way easier than trying to practice at home,” she said.

And, yes, Ashok will be trying to work on her game at home.

“I have actually ordered some nets and bays [and] stuff,” she said. “I hope I can fit it on my terrace and get some reps in.”

The lockdown only permits venturing out for necessities, like groceries and medical supplies or treatment.

Ashok is currently No. 38 in the Olympic Women’s Golf Rankings. The top 60 will qualify for the Tokyo Games, whenever that ends up being rescheduled.

Events postponed or canceled because of coronavirus concerns

With nine LPGA events cancelled or postponed so far, uncertainty hangs over every tour pro. The next LPGA tournament on the schedule is the Pelican Women’s Championship May 14-17. There will be challenges getting ready with nobody sure when they really need to be ready.

“Trying to take it one week at a time, stay healthy and keep a routine each day,” Ashok said. “It is hard not being able to go out and play a few holes or hit balls because that has been part of my life since the age of 6.”

For now, she is making the most of time with her parents, Ashok Gudlamani and Mash.

“Been playing Rummy with mom and dad,” she said.

Dad’s the player to beat in that game.

“But not by much,” she said.

Ashok has already re-read the entire Harry Potter series and completed a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a lighthouse on a cliff above a seashore. She has even more time to fill than she expected these next three weeks as the family’s television stopped working.

“We cannot go out and buy a new one because of the lockdown,” she said.

Ashok is counting her blessings, as the coronavirus hasn’t spread as rampantly in India as it has in other countries, though CNN reported it is unclear how much testing reflects the real rate of infection there. On Tuesday, India reported there were 519 confirmed cases of the virus in India, with 10 deaths.

Ashok is hopeful the proactive steps taken will help minimize the virus in her homeland and everywhere else, and that the LPGA and the rest of world will soon return to healthier times.

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