Want injury-free build-up to CWG, Asian Games: Poncha

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 told
reporters 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

"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

"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.