Pune: In his heydays Rehan Poncha almost set the pool ablaze by breaking a series of national records before making it to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and though medals at the world stage remained a long shot the Pune-based swimming mentor feels that young Indian swimmers have it in them to shine on the world stage.
“I am looking at the positives. The 15 and 16 year olds are breaking the records set by me and my contemporaries. That gives me hope that India can one day do well in swimming,”
Rehan told Sakal Times in an interview after he launched Pune’s second exclusive Speedo store at the Westend Mall.
“Some of the junior swimmers today are better than what we used to be in our junior days. They have been breaking records, which augurs well for Indian swimming,” said Rehan about the records set by him, Virdhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal—all of whom made it to the Olympic Games but winning medals on that stage was beyond imagination.
Rehan, who divides his time between mentoring young swimmers, looking at his business and learning to become scratch golfer, says he is enjoying what he is doing and hopes to make it to the pro golf circuit in due course of time.
Rehan, who was signed on recently by swimwear major Speedo as a Fitness Mentor, holds the distinction of being India’s National Champion six times and National Games best overall athlete twice over.
Though he still holds multiple national records, Rehan is happy preparing youngsters and sharing his experience with them to help them become better swimmers.
“It is important that 15-16 year olds should be groomed correctly. I do mental coaching and hope it helps these youngsters to win medals on international stage,” said Rehan.
“Staying on with the sport and commitment to swimming is important,” said Rehan.
What has really changed in India since the days he used to compete which gives him so much confidence in the youngsters? And pat came answer.
“Today I could buy anything I want off the shelf, but in my days we used to wait for international tournaments that gave us chance to travel abroad. Today youngsters could just go out in city stores and get best possible equipment,” he said.
Rehan said he is happy to get a chance to stay in touch with the sport that gave him all the fame and name.
Golf is passion
No doubt swimming gave him handful of medals, an athlete in him is still alive which is now learning a new sport. But unlike make sportspersons who take up golf as a recreational activity after retirement, Rehan is serious about joining the pro circuit in coming years.
He is training with various international coaches, and is already winning at club level.
Pune has a great pool of swimming talent and there are some great opportunities for young swimmers to take up the sport professionally. It gives me immense pleasure to work with the world’s most renowned swimwear brand Speedo and in turn help groom the youngsters.
— Rehan Poncha (Olympian swimmer)