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Golfer Aditi raises a storm at Olympics as Tokyo prepares for a typhoon

Aditi Ashok, now competing in Tokyo, was the first Indian woman golfer to play at the 2016 Rio Olympics and also the youngest then (Image courtesy: Twitter/@AditiGolf)

While the entire country had been focusing on the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo over the last few days, a 23-year-old Indian golfer was silently working her way up on the leaderboard in intensely hot and humid conditions at the Kasumigaseki Country Club to keep alive hopes of India bagging another medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  

Aditi Ashok, ranked 179th in the world, ended Friday ranked second with a three-under 68 in the third round of the women's individual stroke play competition to stay in the medal contention for the third straight day. Bettering her performance from the first two rounds, the young golfer from Bengaluru moved one rank up as compared to a tied-second position from Thursday.

The fourth and final round starts early on Saturday (6.30 AM Japan time, 3 AM IST) with Aditi, having a combined score of 12-under, just three shots behind leader and World No. 1 Nelly Korda of the USA.

With a typhoon threat hanging over Tokyo tomorrow, if the final round is not completed on Saturday then the officials will have the option of finishing 72 holes on Sunday, weather permitting.  

However, if the decisive stage of the competition is not completed then the medals will be awarded based on the standings at the end of today's round, thus ensuring a silver for the Indian who would also become the first golfer from the country to win a medal at the world's biggest sporting extravaganza.

Participating in her second Olympics – she was the first Indian woman golfer to play at the 2016 Rio Olympics and at 18 years old, also the youngest contender in the women's event – Aditi is now just a step away from entering the history books.

It was a chance outing with her father to the course at the Karnataka Golf Association that made Aditi take to the greens at the tender age of five. From winning her first trophies at the state level as a 13-year-old to the Ladies European Tour titles later and now on the verge of winning an Olympic medal, Aditi has been a trailblazer for the women’s game in India.

"I read somewhere that the Google searches for golf from India were huge after that. Just seeing the impact it had and the exposure it got at the time was a big deal for me," she was quoted as saying by Olympics.com after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The searches have only increased massively since then and will break records if Aditi continues with her strong showing at the Tokyo Games.  

Meanwhile, another Indian who is considered as a huge medal favourite for India in the last leg of the Tokyo Olympic Games is wrestler Bajrang Punia.

Making his Olympics debut today, Bajrang first beat Ernazar Akmataliev of Kyrgyzstan and then won his quarterfinal bout by fall against Morteza Ghiasi of Iran in the men's freestyle 65kg category.

Seeded second, the Indian will now wrestle three-time world champion Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan for a place in the final.

A two-time Asian champion who also bagged a silver at the World Championships, Bajrang will assure India another medal in wrestling after the silver won by Ravi Kumar Dahiya on Thursday.

A triumph in Tokyo will also be Bajrang's biggest gift to his idol, 2012 London Olympics bronze-medallist Yogeshwar Dutt for whom he had backed out of the 2016 Rio Olympics as they both featured in the same weight category.

“In 2012, when I won a gold in the nationals was when I started sparring with Yogi bhai. He would guide me and correct me if my form went wrong somewhere. His support is still with me even today," he had told the Olympic Channel last year.  

Now, as he has the entire India backing him to get a medal in Tokyo, Bajrang where is all set to emulate his idol, or maybe even better the colour of the metal his guru had won nine years ago.

Also Read: Fighting until the very last second, Indian women miss hockey bronze but win a billion hearts