QnA with Rehan Poncha
Rehan Poncha is an Olympian swimmer and Arjuna Awardee. The poster boy of Indian Swimming, Rehan has been National Champion 8 times, India's Best athlete at National Games twice, and holds multiple National Records. He is an avid traveller and blogs on TravelWithRehan with his friend Gitika Taraporewala.
Tell us about your transition from being a swimmer to a golfer
I've always enjoyed challenging myself and the pursuit of excellence through focussed sport. My dream as a swimmer was to make it to the Olympics - the most prestigious of all sporting arenas and I was very fortunate to have been able to make this dream come true. It took hard work, a lot of sacrifice, tremendous support from my family, coaches and team and one pointed dedication. But it was so worth it! Golf gives me the same thrill. It is also mentally challenging as I have to at the bottom of the rankings in golf after retiring on top of the ranks in swimming. But on the whole, I love the life of a professional athlete.
Your tip for budding swimmers
This is not just for sport. I believe lessons from sport have parallels in all aspects of life. So, my first tip to anyone who is pursuing success is this: Persevere! This I believe is most essential for success. It's easy to be motivated when you are winning, and it is as easier still to give up when you have had a setback. But in my experience, it's important to change the way we look at a loss and treat it as an opportunity to learn instead and use those learnings to raise your game. I had to wait 17 long years to finally realise my dream of becoming an Olympian and the journey had many failures and successes. I share my story with young athletes and corporate audiences hoping to inspire them through my experience - that if I could chase down my goals, so can they! Secondly, I’d encourage young athletes to find joy in the sport they pursue. Competitive sport is gruelling both physically and mentally. So, if you can learn to love the big picture and the little things, and find joy in your daily practice, then does make your journey easier … the elegant flight of a golf ball across the fairway, the feeling of powering through the water, it’s important to enjoy the small things.
What is that one tech gadget that you never travel without?
It would have to be my phone! It's how I connect with people, my watch, stopwatch, connect to social media, my camera for when I traveI, my task lists, journal and even watch my films and listen to music, its almost all on this!
Your favourite golf venue in India and overseas?
You have to read my travel blog for this! I blog with my friend Gitika Taraporewala on "TravelWithRehan" and we've covered some of the most picturesque and stunning golf courses from around the world. One of my favourite courses in India so is the Oxford Golf Course with its stunning views and challenging greens. I often train in the middle east, and so have played a several courses there. I love the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, with its perfect fairways and greens, this course also boasts of hosting events on the European Tour. I've played several courses in Asia and Europe as well, and when I was in Scotland last, I decided that I have to do a longer, wholly golf-focussed-trip to Scotland, for a travel story about this cradle of golf!
As an athlete, what does your daily diet look like?
It varies depending on the fitness goals I have chalked out for the season. Currently, I'm working on building lean body mass, so my diet has a lot of protein and reduced carbohydrates incorporated into it. I try and get in carbs like rice and fruit before my training sessions and protein in the form of red meat or supplements post training, meant for recovery. It's a challenge to stay disciplined with my diet and stay away from junk, especially since I travel for work and golf quite a lot and being Parsi, I am a complete foodie! However, I believe you have to live a little, enjoy travel and experience cuisines from around the world and that’s exactly what I've done over the past few years. Once I’m back home and set into a routine of golf training and workout out, my diet also follows suit.
Your career must entail a lot of air travelling. How do you usually spend your time in flight and at airports?
Yes, there's been a lot of travel throughout my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Airports are where I typically pick up gifts for people back home, as through my travel I usually enjoy spending time with the people, food or discovering the culture of the place. Then if there's time, it's usually downtime, chilling at the lounge, and doing some last-minute downloading of films and shows for the flight! I'm a massive movie buff, so flights are definitely the time for me to watch a film I've downloaded on Netflix, or to catch up on sleep. If it's a blogging trip, then my partner is usually there so we spend our time at airports and the flight planning blog content or story angles for media articles! It's good fun!