India’s Anirban Lahiri qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 as the 60th and final qualifier in a list published by the International Golf Federation on Tuesday. This will be his second Olympic appearance, after finishing a lowly 57th at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Lahiri, who is currently preparing for the Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Connecticut, called the Olympic qualification a gift. The 33-year-old also admitted that he was not expecting to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics.
Anirban Lahiri told PTI:
“It was a big surprise, I wasn’t expecting it. Even though I’ve earned it, I don’t feel like I’ve really earned it as I know how far below my potential, I’ve played this year. It’s a gift and an opportunity, so why would I throw it away?"
Anirban Lahiri wants to make the Olympic opportunity count
The golfer is eager to push aside his Rio setback and make this opportunity count.
“I know what it is to be an Olympian as I’ve done it before (in Rio) and I don’t want to be just an Olympian. I want to win a medal and I want to do something that makes a difference. I know winning a PGA Tour event will do that, but winning a medal would do even more. I do have a certain responsibility towards the game and my country."
Anirban Lahiri knows winning a medal would boost the spread of golf in India. He elaborated on how young kids have been messaging him after his qualification and he wants to be the torch bearer for them.
“I’ve gotten so many messages from kids who are playing the game now, saying, ‘We’re so glad you’re in, we’ve always looked up to you go make us proud.'
"Everybody has different motivations as to why they do this for a living and a large part is supporting yourself, family and personal achievements.
"There’s also a huge aspect for me personally that comes from everything that I’ve gotten from the sport and all the love and support I’ve got from my country."
On his feelings after learning about his qualification, Anirban Lahiri said:
“When I first found out, I called my wife and asked what do I want to do now. I told her how can I not go? How can I not represent my country in the biggest sporting event in the world?
"That's why I'm playing the game... to have the opportunity to represent your country, and not just the representation as I feel like I’m playing really well. I feel I’m close to playing my best golf right now and for a lot of reasons, it makes sense for me. It means everything for me to go.”
Anirban Lahiri is currently 118th in the golf rankings and is focused on his fight to stay inside the top-125 to qualify for the Playoffs in August, and more importantly, retain his Tour card for next season.