Diksha ready to renew Olympic quest but will the back hold?

Diksha Dagar has been struggling with a back injury for some time. The Golfinghub photo by Virendra Singh Gosain.

Playing the waiting game and watching from the sidelines is never easy for an athlete. That’s what Diksha Dagar has had to do the past few months and the pain she experienced in the lower back melts compared to the angst of watching peers blaze away on the golf course.

On Sunday, Diksha was in front of the TV tracking the fortunes of Atthaya Thitikul on the final day of the Honda LPGA Thailand in Chonburi. “At times, it seems so close, yet so far,” said father Colonel Narinder Dagar. The two girls have played quite a few times on Tour and watching the action on telly is a way of staying connected in these times. The back still not fully healed and the pandemic ruling out access to a golf course, it has been a double whammy.

Attribute it to the wear and tear as a result of non-stop golf for a decade or the eagerness after the breakthrough win on the Ladies European Tour in 2019, Diksha finds herself in a space she had not fathomed. The signs were there since the Jakarta Asian Games but bouts of physiotherapy brought relief. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the pain from travelling from the shoulders to the lower back.

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The pain, which forced Diksha to pull out of the Jaipur leg on the Women’s Golf Association of India, has led to bitterness. “The difference between players abroad and here in India is the quality of infrastructure (support) at their disposal,” said Colonel Dagar.

The Golfinghub photo by Virendra Singh Gosain

Whether the reservations are in place can be debated, but what can be said with certainty is that the recent events could have been handled differently. Despite the discomfort, Diksha had expressed keenness to tee off at the DLF Golf and Country Club in March, the week before Jaipur. Perhaps, the three weeks of physiotherapy in Pune and the doctor’s advice of “not more than an 8-iron” gave some confidence. The entry was sent, but a day before tee off Diksha wanted to pull out. This was unacceptable to the army man in Dagar Sr. “Once a commitment has been made, it has to be honoured,” were his words then, but now agrees it would have been better to relent.

Needless to say, that week was a fruitless exercise and Diksha may well have aggravated her condition. Since then, it has been about yoga and physiotherapy sessions. There is relief but soft practice at home is no indication of how the body will cope under tournament pressure. To gauge her condition, the father-daughter dup will leave for Italy on May 21 provided they get the necessary clearances in view of the travel restrictions. Even if these come through, the nod from the doctor is paramount given that Diksha is “90% fine”.

Starting with the Ladies Italian Open in May-end, the three-week trip to Europe has been planned keeping the Olympics in mind. Currently, in the reserve list for Tokyo, a strong finish will get Diksha within the cutline, but will the body cope with the rigours of Tour? Diksha is hoping it does, else it will be a four-year wait to fulfill a childhood ambition.

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