In-form golfer Diksha over the moon after late Oly call-up

In-form golfer Diksha Dagar has made it to the full-strength India contingent at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics by securing a place in the main field after Paula Reto of South Africa and Sarah Schober of Austria pulled out of the event.

Dagar will join Aditi Ashok at the Kasumigaseki Country Club when the women’s competition begins next Thursday (August 5).

The 20-year-old, who was born with a hearing disability, had won a silver representing India in the 2017 Summer Deaflympics held in Samsun, Turkey.

Dagar, who was part of the team that won the Aramco Team Series title in London on the Ladies European Tour (LET) earlier this month, is enjoying a rich vein of form.

In her last four LET starts, she has two top-four finishes at the GANT Ladies Open in Finland and the Czech Ladies Open in Beroun, Czech Republic.

She is also a winner on the LET, having secured the title at the 2019 Ladies South African Open.

Dagar was second in the reserve list on the last date of qualification, and she was offered a spot by the International Golf Federation after South Africa’s Paula Reto withdrew from the competition and Austria declined to take a reallocation for Sarah Schober.

Speaking exclusively to IANS from Ireland, where she is playing the LPGA Tour co-sanctioned ISPS Handa World Invitational, Dagar said: “I am very excited and very happy to have finally made it to the Olympics field. I have put in three years of my life into this. I could never take my eyes off the Olympics.

“I worked extra hard to recover from my injury (which caused her to struggle throughout 2020) and give myself the chance to qualify. To be in Tokyo, it really means the world to me, my family and my team.”

It will be Dagar’s first visit to Japan, but she is hoping that her form would make up for her lack of playing condition knowledge.

“I am happy with where my game is now, especially with my ball-striking and putting. I am looking forward to my Olympic experience very positively. I would be going there with the mindset to do my best,a she added.

The Indian Golf Union (IGU) is hoping that Dagar reaches Tokyo in time and represents the country.

“It’s been a logistical nightmare, especially given the pandemic situation and the strict guidelines that have been laid down by Tokyo 2020. Diksha was very close to qualifying and we were prepared to go the extra distance to ensure that she reached the venue,” said Ishwar Achanta from the IGU.

“We could only move and get the necessary permissions from the Indian Olympic Association (IOC) once we got the go-ahead from the IGF. We had already started preparing towards this possibility, and I am happy that her name is now in the system.

“Diksha will reach Tokyo and her father, Col Narender Dagar, will carry her accreditation (which is also the visa for the athletes) from here, following all Covid-19 protocols,” Achanta added.

The men’s competition started on Thursday, in which India is represented by Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane.