Golfers Anirban Lahiri, S.S.P. Chawrasia seal Rio berth
New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Star golfers Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia will represent India at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as the sport makes its return to the quadrennial sporting extravaganza after a gap of 112 years.
With July 11 being the cut-off date for qualification, Lahiri and Chawrasia have made the grade for Rio as per the International Golf Federation's (IGF) rankings for the Olympic men's competition.
Reigning Asia No.1 Lahiri (world rank 62) and reigning Indian Open champion Chawrasia (world rank 207) were placed 20th and 45th respectively in the IGF ranking list which was updated on Monday night. The two Indians have now officially sealed their places in the elite field of 60 players.
"Olympian Anirban Lahiri sounds good, but Olympic medalist Anirban Lahiri would sound way better." Lahiri, a winner of seven international titles, told Professional Golfers Tout of India (PGTI) after the announcement.
Lahiri, who has been plying his trade on the PGA Tour this season, had enjoyed an exceptional season in 2015 with two wins on the European Tour and a phenomenal tied fifth finish at the PGA Championship, the best result for an Indian at a Major till date. Last year, the Bengaluru-based golfer also created history by becoming the first Indian to be a part of the International Team at the Presidents Cup.
He has had a long spell in the world's top-50 in 2016 and had all but sealed his Olympic berth at the start of the year. Anirban will be playing his ninth successive Major when he tees it up at the British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland this week.
Interestingly, the Rio Olympics will be Lahiri's second outing at a quadrennial multi-sporting event. He had earlier participated at the 2006 Doha Asian Games where he was part of the Indian team that won the silver medal.
Chawrasia, a winner of four international titles, including three on the European Tour, notched up a long-awaited victory at the Indian Open earlier this year that propelled him into contention for the Olympics.
On his qualification, Chawrasia said, "I'm extremely excited about having the honour to represent my country at the Olympics."
"It's a major career milestone for me. I'm looking forward to teaming up with my good friend Anirban in Rio. My total focus for the next three weeks is to practice and prepare for the Olympics as I want to give it my best shot," he added.
While the Olympics will be held from August 5 to 21, the men's golf competition will be staged at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro from August 11 to 14.