ATP

Rahm wants to emulate Nadal and transcend his sport

By Sports Desk October 05, 2021

Jon Rahm hopes to "transcend golf and become an idol", echoing the achievements of tennis star and compatriot Rafael Nadal.

Rahm, who lives in America, has been amazed by his level of fame back home in Spain, where he is preparing for the Iberian swing of the European Tour.

This week he will seek to claim a third consecutive Open de Espana title in Madrid, with the world number one having risen to a level where he is instantly recognisable on the streets of the capital.

"It is difficult to be an idol when I do not live here," said the U.S. Open champion. "I see it when I spend a certain amount of time here, when you reach a certain level and even more so today with social media, because you reach more people and you realise the impact that you have.

"It only took 30 seconds for someone to recognise me when I left the hotel. If you were to tell me that this will happen to me in Bilbao, my hometown, I could understand it.

"I imagine that Madrid is full of sportsmen, but to be recognised so quickly is something I was not aware of.

"My parents and my friends tell me, but until I see it for my myself I do not realise it too much. Hopefully, I will transcend golf and become an idol."

Asked about an esteemed selection of his fellow countrymen – namely Nadal, former NBA stalwart Pau Gasol, and two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso – and the level of fame they have achieved, Rahm chose the 20-time grand slam winner as the one he would most like to emulate.

"You have named three sportsmen that have been my idols, three that I have seen competing, especially Rafa, who I already said is an idol and a model for me to learn from," said Rahm.

"I don't know if I will reach the level in golf that he reached in tennis because nowadays it's very competitive, but if I can be an idol for any Spanish kid, that would be welcome."

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