Former Olympian Rehan Poncha is carving his way towards another Olympic medal. But this time it’s not swimming, it’s the game of gentlemen, Golf!
Yes, whilst we have come across a lot many cases of attaining multiple medals in a particular sport, Poncha has something wider in mind spreading his arms in both the directions. After quitting competitive swimming in July 2012, Poncha has picked up a new sport where he endeavours to excel.
Currently, hitting the golf ball as far as a professional does, Poncha is taking lessons at one of the world’s best coaches at Butch Harmon School of Golf in Dubai.
Golf returned to the Olympics fold after 112 years in Rio 2016. Ever since, Poncha is eager to do what no other Indian athlete has done before.
Beginning of Golf
“I had stopped competitive swimming in 2012. I came to Mumbai, from Bengaluru, for my first extended break in 15 years long career as a swimmer,” said the five time national swimming champion.
“Though I would wake up at 5:30 am like I was supposed to go for practice but I enjoyed the freedom initially. After week or so of having no work or routine, it led to panic attacks,” he added.
“At that point, my friends told me to learn a sport as a new hobby, and my father suggested golf,” said Poncha.
“For the first three days I was not able to get it right. Golf is a bloody hard sport and because of my huge ego for sports I was unable to accept that I cannot do it right, if I’m trying,” said the former Olympian.
“Fourth day onwards, I realized that I was training the whole day at a completely new sport. Unfortunately, I cannot play a sport for hobby. I have to play it good enough to either win or lose, trying to win. I thrive on competition and always want to improve my craft. Before I knew it, I was head on into it – full time, 6 to 8 hours a day. I stopped missing swimming,” he added.
Target as a Golfer
Having a handicap of six at Poona Golf Club, Rehan Poncha aims to become a scratch golfer at the earliest. His eventual goal, from the beginning and it still is, is to try and turn professional.
“By the time I am 35, I want to be playing, at least, on the Indian Pro Tour (PGTI) or, god willing, on an International Tour. To represent the country in Olympic Golf is a dream” said the 30 year old.
Sustaining as a Golfer without Sponsorship
“My funding is through my own work. I run my own brand of workshops for swimmers, across India. I work with the Otters Club Swim Team where I mentor and consult. I do motivational speaking for corporate and mentorship sessions with athletes from different sports as well,” explained the swimmer-turned-golfer.