Leander Paes, 42, is geared up for playing in his seventh Olympic and to win a medal for the country. He will be creating a world record by playing for the seventh time in Olympics. He competed in consecutive Olympic appearances from 1992 to 2012, making him the first Indian and only tennis player to compete at six Olympic Games.
The Padma Bhushan awardee feels that he is at the peak of his fitness physically and mentally, he believes that he has fair chances of winning a medal for the country. Looking fit and excited to be a part of Olympics wagon, he said that he has been training for three and a half year at a high altitude of 1,750m above sea level so that his lungs are better prepared.
“For me training is going really well. Fitness-wise, tennis-wise I feel at great nick of the moment. I am really looking forward to Olympics….for some athletes who only get ten seconds of a 100 metre race in every 4 years, it is very specific. For us tennis players if you serve a double fault at the wrong time in the wrong point of the match you are going to lose the Olympics," the ace tennis player said.
The Indian veteran Paes, who has 18 Grand Slam titles to his credit, had bagged the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open with Martina Hingis in 2015, to become the first pair to win three Grand Slams in a calendar year. "I love achieving history. I would love to get to 20 Grand Slams", Paes said while dedicating all his titles to his father - former Olympic bronze medallist Dr Vece Paes
Last time, the London Olympics was marred by controversy and Paes really hopes that this time around the selection will be based on the merit. In 2012, both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Boppana had refused to pair up with Laender Paes and insisted on being paired together for the event. Eventually Laender was paired opposite Sania in mixed doubles for the last Olympics.
"I have always prided myself for playing for the flag and for the people. So it's no wonder that my fitness, motivation and single-mindedness focus is at its peak in 2016, because we are six months shy from the Rio Olympics. I'm all geared up to win my second Olympic medal and I really hope London doesn't play out again," said the ace tennis player.
One of the most successful professional Indian tennis players, he won a bronze medal for India in singles in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He has received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India's highest sporting honour, in 1996–97; the Arjuna Award in 1990; the Padma Shri award in 2001 and its 3rd Highest Civilian Award the Padma Bhushan in January 2014 for his outstanding contribution to tennis in India. He is also famous for his several memorable Davis Cup performances, recently he completed a 'Career Slam' in mixed doubles with Swiss partner Martina Hingis with a hard-fought win over compatriot Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig at Roland Garros.