GDI: When did you pick golf and how was your golfing journey till the Olympics?
VL: I started playing golf as it was in my family. My dad Paulo Alimonda led me into the sport and I loved competition so much that I decided to go to the United States when I was 16 years old. My mother Silvia Curti was a US citizen. I played high school golf in California and my dream was to play college golf there. God orchestrated everything along with the hard work I put in to help me earn a scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC). I was in the best University teams that time and was surrounded by talented amateur players and that’s what inspired me. I had to come out of my comfort zone to be where I am. I had to leave my country, learn a different language and culture. I then joined the Symetra Tour and further qualified for the Ladies European Tour (LET) which helped me get world ranking points in order to qualify for the Rio Games. Thankfully, I had a family who always supported me but still, I had to fight without much financial help from sponsors etc.
GDI: What is your ultimate ambition in golf?
VL: I still need to improve. My aim is to play with the best at the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) in the USA. I will keep putting my best efforts to achieve that goal and be the best golfer I can. I love my life as I get to meet new people and travel the world. I also want to share my expertise with my fellow Brazilian women and help promote the sport in whatever capacity I can. Brazil has no dearth of talented youngsters. Fernanda Lacaz, who trains with my first coach Jaime Gonzales at Sao Fernando Golf Club in Sao Paulo, is just 15 years old and has infinite chances to represent Brazil in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I am grateful to the Almighty to have bestowed me with such a wonderful life.
GDI: Has staging the Olympics last year changed the way Brazil government wants to popularise golf in the country?
VL: We are still waiting for the Marapendi course (in Rio) to be established as it is too much up in the air when it comes to the future planning of the course. I had a hope that after the government opened the course for the public post the Olympics, sponsors will pump in money to popularize the game. But that’s not happening at the moment. I think the authorities who are responsible for the course, it’s their duty to make it accessible to the public and keep the costs low. Golf has always been an expensive sport in Brazil and now we have got a chance to change this. So the federation and the government need to act as door openers and leaders to promote the sport.
GDI: What’s the first thing you notice when you come to India?
VL: I notice how lovely the people are – how polite and attentive. I think the Brazilian and Indian cultures have a link. I feel really comfortable here despite being a Brazilian. I love the fact that the Indian federation (WGAI) is doing good things for women’s golf like India has a pro tour while we are still working on something, is quite awesome.