After an unexpected opening round Rio Olympic loss, an emotional Leander Paes stated that he felt ‘gutted’ about the way he was treated upon his arrival two days. The 43-year old believed that he was unfairly highlighted by sections of the media and organising committee upon his late arrival to Rio. Leander consistenly reffirmed that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was aware about his World team tennis participation, clashing with the initial Rio training camp.
During a small media gathering, he said, “Firstly, I wouldn’t say that this is my last Olympics, It’s all about how I feel and how my body feels in four years time. However, if you ask me I would say there are no two ways about it that I will be representing India in Tokyo as well. But, it all depends on how I feel physically then. There has been a lot of questions raised about my committment to the national team. All I can say to that is participated in seven straight Olympics and won a medal, so for me personally there is no committment issues. Yes, if you have played for so long, you expected to be treated better, but I always look for positive energy even in the gloomiest of situations, unfortunately I couldn’t here.”
Speaking about the loss, Paes felt that they were just not good enough on the day. He added, “We had our moments, but they were the better team on the day and deserved to go through. Could have we played better? Yes, there are no two ways about it, we could have played much much better. As I said, I’m gutted with the loss, but these kind of results do happen, and as an athlete I have to take it on the chin and move forward.”
Olympic doubles has been a bogey event for me: Paes
Surprisingly, Olympics is the only event where Paes has performed better than as a single player than a doubles. On being asked why it was so, he replied, “It’s a good question actually, we almost won the bronze medal match in Athens, we had match point and somehow squandered it away, and there have been campaigns such as this one, where there is nothing noteworthy. Honestly, my seventh Olympics is the one I enjoyed the least, if you ask me.”
He added, “The highlight moment for me was walking in the opening ceremony, that was something special. As I have always said, the past only helps you in bettering your future, I’m sure both me and Rohan will learn from this result and keep moving forward.” Leander has no more events left here in Rio, and will be flying out to participate in a few challenger tournaments.
Asked about why he did end up coming late for the Rio camp, he added, “I don’t see why this is a recurrent issue, when it was solved earlier. I honestly don’t want to fall to the level of petty fighting, but this time I have been forced too. So please as I said, I don’t want to be replying at a negative level. I want to keep moving forward and target Tokyo 2020.”
After Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare lost their first round encounter to China's S Zhang/ S Peng, only India’s mixed doubles team in Mirza and Bopanna remain as medal hopefuls.