New Delhi :After training in the United States for more than two months, ace Indian swimmer Rehan Poncha now hopes to remain injury-free as he gears up for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year.
Poncha said the exposure-cum-training trip to the University of Southern California, Los Angeles has brighten his medal prospects as he looks to finish in the top-5 bracket in the Commonwealth Games to be held from October 3-14.
"I want to be injury-free before the two big events --Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in China. I have been training hard in the US for last four months and it has helped me a lot. I have improved my power output in the water and I am sure of performing well at those events," Poncha said from Los Angeles.
"My teammates are all world class swimmers and I have to work extremely hard. I have also been racing a lot here and also preparing for 200 fly and the individual medley events. Indians have a good chance to perform at Delhi CWG and Asian games.
"It is every sportsman's dream to win medals at international meets and I am no different. I hope to finish in Top-5," said Poncha, who is the proud owner of over 25 international medals.
Poncha, the 'medley man' of Indian swimming for the past decade, said he wants to perform his final practice sessions at the newly-built S P Mukherjee Complex in Delhi, venue for Swimming in Commonwealth Games.
"I will be returning to India in the last week of September. Although I would like to do my final preparation in Los Angeles, but if it doesn't work out, then I would certainly like to swim in the new pool at Delhi. Mostly my last week of training will take place there to get used to the pool and surroundings. I would like to practice there for at least a week," the Olympian said.
On being chosen for this year's Arjuna Award, the 25-year-old Bangalorian said, "I am really happy and excited that I got it and that makes me feel like my efforts in the pool are paying rich dividends now."
"I knew my name had been nominated for the award. Getting it was definitely a possibility but not a certainty. It's a great honour to get it," he said.
Poncha felt that government should improve sporting facilities in the country to make the sport more popular among people.
"If we can spend thousands of crores on making world class stadiums, then I am sure a few lakhs could also be spent for the betterment of each sport including swimming. With better sporting facilities, we can certainly do much better.
"I am lucky to have had financial support from the government several times, and hopefully I can continue to perform well at the level expected of me," Poncha added.
Poncha is the most successful Indian swimmer with three senior national titles, and twice a winner of the best sportsperson award at the National Games.