Paris Olympics: "Glad I am in the thick of it," says golfer Shubhankar Sharma

A standout performer in the last British Open, Sharma hopes to make a memorable Olympic Games debut alongside senior colleague Gaganjeet Bhullar

Subhankar Sharma, young Indian golfer, is one of India's hopefuls at the Paris Olympics 2024 (photo: Asian Tour)
Subhankar Sharma, young Indian golfer, is one of India's hopefuls at the Paris Olympics 2024 (photo: Asian Tour)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

At 28 years, Subhankar Sharma has already been there, done that as an Indian golfer on the international circuit.

The two-time winner of the DP World Tour, who created waves last year with a best-ever finish by an Indian in the British Open at joint eighth, is now ready to make his mark in the Olympics arena in Paris a few months from now.

The Chandigarh duo of Sharma and Gaganjeet Bhullar are likely to take their first bow at the Olympic Games in a few months. The good news is that both have been bolstered by support from the ministry of youth affairs and sports’ Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

Sharma and senior pro Bhullar are currently ranked 47 and 52, respectively, on the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) list and hence expected to be among the 60 professionals teeing off on 1 August at the Le Golf National in Paris. 

‘’I have played at the Le National a few times before too, but to step out for India there in the Olympics is an exciting prospect," says Sharma. "I will draw on my experience to meet the nation's expectations. Needless to say, I will put my best foot forward.’’

Sharma is currently in Chandigarh for a break before embarking on some practice rounds for the US Open. 

The financial assistance offered to this golfing pair under TOPS will cover the cost of competing in nine DP World Tour events, apart from the two majors in the build-up to the Olympic Games — the US Open (13–16 June) and the British Open (21–24 July) — besides coaches’ fees, travel and other logistics. 

Speaking to National Herald in an exclusive telephonic interview, Sharma said that with the cut-off for the Olympics on 31 June, he is fully focused on the tournaments right now.

"Last year's Open has been one of the highlights of my career and will always have a special place in my heart," says the affable Sharma. "There is still enough time left for the Games cut-off and the more work I put in, it’s going to help me."

Do you feel the burden of expectations from the Indian contingent in Paris?

No, Sharma is quietly confident that touching a double-digit tally of medals is quite possible this time.

It’s only befitting that given India’s rising status as a global power, we are expected to reach that mark. I am glad that I am also in the thick of it

How do you plan to approach the competition in Paris? Thoughts on your own medal prospects?

See, you can’t look at golf the way you would look at athletics for a medal. Golf is more complex and almost like a marathon — where conditions can change over the four days of the competition and have an impact on your chances.

The aim will be to keep my head in the game right through and anything may happen.

Paris Olympics: "Glad I am in the thick of it," says golfer Shubhankar Sharma

Sharma also expresses his immense respect for Gaganjeet Bhullar, his senior on the professional circuit with 11 Asian Tour titles and a silver medal to show off from the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

“Gagan is a proven champion and I look up to him with a lot of regard and respect. He has a wonderful mindset about winning," says Sharma.

I am sure we both should be able to spur each other to bring glory to the nation in Paris.
golfer Shubhankar Sharma on senior colleague Gaganjeet Bhullar

The mutual respect between the two shows.

Bullar, now 36, says: “Shubhankar is much younger than I am but I have played a few rounds with him in tournaments. Both of us are excited as this is our first Olympics.

Golf is such a sport that anything can happen, a few good rounds, a few good shots can definitely go a long way
golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar on younger colleague Shubhankar Sharma

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