'Put an Indian shirt on my back and a flag in the sky, nothing will stop me' - Leander Paes

Leander Paes is known to raise his game several notches while playing for the country
Leander Paes is known to raise his game several notches while playing for the country
Kartik Iyer
Modified 20 Aug 2020

Indian tennis star Leander Paes recently mentioned that he gives it his all while representing his country in the Davis Cup or in multi-sport events like the Olympics and the Asian Games.

Leander Paes spoke at length about his stupendous tennis career, including his tendency to elevate his game every time he represents the country, during an exclusive interaction with Indranil Basu on Sportskeeda Live.

The 47-year-old veteran was asked about the difference in intensity that is evident when he plays in ATP tournaments compared to when he represents India in the Davis Cup.

Leander Paes responded that there is no stopping him whenever he wears the Indian jersey or sees the Indian flag fluttering in the sky.

"Well you put an Indian shirt on my back and you put an Indian flag flying up in the sky, nothing will stop me."

Leander Paes highlighted that the pride of representing the country came to him through his lineage as he comes from the family of the great Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt. His mother Jennifer Paes is an ex-captain of the Indian basketball team and his father Dr. Vece Paes was a bronze-medalist in hockey in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

"Most people really understand it, they get the fact that I come from a family of patriots, they get the fact that I come from a lineage of people who played for the country, who fought for the country, whether it was Michael Madhusudan Dutt, whether it was my mom who captained the Indian basketball team, whether it was my dad winning a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich."

The 1996 Atlanta Olympics bronze-medallist also pointed out that he was conceived during the 1972 edition of the quadrennial Games, which probably contributes further to his love for the nation.

"And also the fact that I am an Olympic baby, I was conceived in Munich and born in June 1973. I think that there is a naturalness, it comes very smooth, so I don't really fight it or argue with people who do not understand it because they just don't know. For me it is something that drives me tremendously."

Leander Paes on his fascination for the Olympic medal

Leander Paes bagged a bronze medal for India at the 1996 Olympic Games
Leander Paes bagged a bronze medal for India at the 1996 Olympic Games

Leander Paes revealed that he would polish his father's Olympic medal every weekend as a young boy.

"I used to polish my father's medal every Sunday morning and take out a tin of Brasso and a little rag and I would sit on the floor at home and polish his medal until it shone so bright."

The 7-time Olympian disclosed that he would always be fascinated by the Olympic medal despite numerous other trophies in their household.

"I would ask him what the Goddess of Athena meant and about the ribbons. I was very fascinated and out of all my mom's trophies, out of all my dad's trophies and there were plenty of them in the house, this one Olympic medal really stood out and I always wanted one of my own."

Leander Paes signed off by stating that his sole aim in life was to represent India at the Olympics, Davis Cup or the Asian Games which is probably the reason why he has two world records to his name.

"My whole life's dedication and hard work has been towards playing for the country whether it is in the Olympics, the Davis Cup or the Asian Games. And there is a reason I have two world records in that, because I just dedicated my whole life to that."

Leander Paes is the only Indian and the only tennis player in the world to have participated in seven Olympic Games and would be hoping to extend his run at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. The 18-time Grand Slam champion has also registered a world-record 45 victories in Davis Cup doubles encounters.

Published 20 Aug 2020
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