Winner all the way

Young talent

Winner all the way

Successful: Rehan Poncha. DH photo by Srikanta Sharma R

His hate for losing has transformed him into a complete winner. How else can one explain the success of swimmer Rehan Poncha, who has been awarded the Arjuna Award this year? The Bangalore boy received the award from President Pratibha Patil on August 29 in New Delhi. He is also the face of the popular juice outlet, Booster Juice. The young swimmer chatted with Metrolife on being a young achiever, his hobbies and his preparations for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

“I am proud to be a Josephite,” he smiles as he starts the conversation talking about his school — St Joseph's Boys High School. Before shifting his base to Bangalore in 1999, Rehan used to live in Mumbai. “Even as a kid, I used to love competition and I’d generally be racing down 50-year-old aunties and uncles,” he laughs.

Swimming happened when Rehan’s parents were advised by doctors to get him into water as he was a weak, premature baby. He adds, “I also used to take dance lessons from Shiamak Davar so I had two options when it came to my career — dancing or swimming. Since there was no racing involved in dancing, I opted for swimming.”

Rehan was in Los Angeles when he heard about the Arjuna Award, being given to him. It was just three days before his 25th birthday. “It was 3 am and my father called me to tell me about it. It was unbelievable,” he laughs. “Then I checked my Facebook account and saw the messages pouring in.”

Rehan is now all set for a competition, which will be held in Jaipur. Not to forget the Commonwealth Games for which, Rehan’s preparations are on in full swing. “I can’t wait to swim in my country. It’s a different feeling altogether,” he is all excited.

With cricket being given so much attention in the country, does he feel sad that sports like swimming take a backseat? “Yes. But the cricketers deserve all the importance that they get,” he answers. “But I hope with Commonwealth, people will start noticing other sports as well.”  Being a top swimmer of the country makes Rehan happy and dissatisfied at the same time. “I am happy to be a part of the top eight in Asia. But I am also unhappy because I am not amongst top 25 swimmers of the world,” he reasons.

When it comes to sports, he admires veteran swimmer Alexander Popov and tennis star Roger Federer. In his free time, he loves going on long drives. “And I love eating. After all, I am a Parsi. I have to love food,” he laughs. With Boman Irani being his uncle, will we see Rehan in movies soon? He just laughs off the question saying he intends to focus only on swimming at present.

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