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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Shiv Kapur targets Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold after Asian Tour victory in Delhi

Asian Games gold medal winner at Busan in 2002 says dream is to hear Indian national anthem playing in Japanese capital in 2020

Indian golfer Shiv Kapur contemplated quitting golf this year after battling the fall-out of a case of dengue fever. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Indian golfer Shiv Kapur contemplated quitting golf this year after battling the fall-out of a case of dengue fever. Sajjad Hussain / AFP

Fresh from lifting an Asian Tour trophy at his home club in New Delhi, Indian golfer Shiv Kapur set his sights much higher: winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Kapur, who won Asian Games gold for India in Busan in 2002, said his dream was to hear the Indian national anthem playing in Tokyo in 2020.

"For me personally, if I could at the end of my career say I am an Olympian that will mean a lot to me," Kapur told AFP, after he won the Panasonic Open India by three shots on Sunday.

An Olympic victory for Kapur, now 35, would be a major success for India, which despite its billion-plus population has only ever won one individual gold medal at the Games.

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He will have to be among India's top two ranked players to earn a spot in Tokyo. At last year's Rio Olympics, where golf returned to the Games for the first time since 1904, Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia represented India.

Several leading players, including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, skipped Rio, with some citing fears about the Zika virus and others complaining about a packed playing schedule.

Kapur said: "A lot of professional golfers don't really take [the Olympics] seriously.

"They just think it's another tournament, golf doesn't belong in Olympics and we have majors and that's what's important. But I think that mindset will change over time."

Kapur contemplated quitting golf earlier this year as he battled the fall-out of a severe case of dengue fever. But he has since bounced back in style with two titles.

When Kapur looked on the bright side

At the Yeangder Heritage in April, he ended an 11-year Asian Tour title drought, while Sunday's win fulfilled a lifelong ambition to win at the Delhi Golf Course, where he played when he was growing up.

Kapur, who is coached by Australia's Shane Gillespie, had close competition from American Paul Peterson before he pulled away on the last day. Seven golfers, including Peterson, tied for second.

"I started with a new coach at the back end of last year and that has paid dividends. I put myself forward with a five-year plan starting with the 2020 Olympics," Kapur said.

"That's a goal that we are working towards and I feel I have a good four or five years of golf left in me before I look at other things," he added.