Lahiri and Mane shift focus on Paris 2024 after Tokyo disappointment
India’s Anirban Lahiri left the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 deflated after failing to launch a medal charge for his country but hopes to be third time lucky if he can fight his way to Paris 2024.
The PGA TOUR star had opened his campaign in Tokyo on a promising note following a first-round 4-under 67 at Kasumigaseki Country Club last week before adding a pair of 72s and a 68 to share 42nd position in what was his second Olympic Games appearance. Countryman Udayan Mane finished 56th out of the 60 golfers in the men’s competition.
“Very disappointed,” said Lahiri. “I just couldn’t get it going after the first day. Got off to bad starts every day including the first round and just played certain stretches really bad. I think that’s the story of my week. To be honest, my game just wasn’t there. You definitely learn to be patient, learn to be persistent as you still have to grind it out and try to come in with your best score even when you don’t have your best game. It’s disappointing as this opportunity only comes once every four years, five years in this case.
“Hopefully in three years’ time, I can do better. You really want to be maxing it out and playing your best when the opportunity comes. I came here feeling good about my game, got off to a good start but after that, it kind of fizzled out.”
Despite the disappointment, Lahiri is ever ready to don the tricolours of India again if the opportunity arises in Paris. “It’s one of those things you really want to do. You just look at the way guys are playing, some are shooting really impressive scores and in contention for a medal and it might be the highlight of their career or for their country who may not have as many medals and it’s a big deal,” he said.
“You have a lot of dominant countries like the U.S., China and Russia and they have a boatload of medals. But there are lot of countries that don’t have a lot of medals and we (India) are looking at two and maybe a third. You could make a huge difference and that’s what I look at as an opportunity to make a difference. So in three years’ time, if I have the opportunity for Paris, I’ll definitely take it,” he said.
Lahiri, who holds seven victories in Asia, will now switch focus back to the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup race where he currently ranks 115th on the points list. After competing in his fifth event during a six-week stretch leading to Tokyo, the 34-year-old will take this week off before returning to action at the Wyndham Championship next week which is the final event of the Regular Season. The top-125 qualify for the lucrative FedExCup Playoffs.
“This week has been physically very challenging and it definitely took a lot out of my body in this heat. I’m going to rest up, and make minor tweaks in some departments which didn’t fire really well and get refocused for Wydham and try to finish the season strong,” said Lahiri.
Mane, who was making his Olympic Games debut, knows he has plenty of work to do to match the world’s best. “I’ve got to start practising in a more focused way and I’m going to change the way I approach the game and also start traveling outside of India a lot more as that’s where the action is. That’s where I’ll get better,” said the 30-year-old.
“The biggest take away is that I’ve got to be way more confident with myself and not worry about the golf course or the people. My short game needs to improve. I saw guys chipping in and making those tough up and downs. I have some mental work to do in terms of backing myself up. Otherwise, I feel my game is headed in the right way. There was way too many positives to take from this week.”
His time in the Games Village was also an eye-opener. “Those are the best memories. Just to see the best athletes in the world there and they do their own thing. It’s awesome to see them being so focused and not being deviated from their routine. I have a lot to learn from that.”
Featured photo: IGF