Leander Paes claimed that his fitness was still good enough to see him play at the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
The 39-year-old told reporters yesterday that he can still play another three-and-a-half years because his body felt great and injury-free. Paes also credited the current breed of Indian players with inspiring and motivating him to keep pushing hard.
“Yuki Bhambri, Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh, who are future Indian players, would motivate me to participate in next Olympics,” Paes, who won a singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said.
Davis Cup half-century
Paes also said that when it came to representing India in the Davis Cup, the very thought of representing the tricolour provided him with all the motivation he needed even after 23 years of playing in the tournament.
The 39-year-old, who will be playing his 50th Davis Cup tie tomorrow, seemed taken aback by the milestone. “Fiftieth? Are you sure? I still feel young,” said the Kolkata-born, Mumbai-based Paes, who has a 48-22 win-loss record in singles and 39-10 in doubles in the tournament.
“The flag and the privilege of representing India are the biggest motivating factors for me and of course, my passion for tennis,” said Paes on the sidelines of the draw ceremony for the Asia-Oceania Davis Cup Group I relegation play-off tie between India and Indonesia.
Born to Vece Paes, a hockey bronze medallist at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and Jennifer, who captained India in basketball and also participated in the Munich Olympics, Leander felt he inherited certain virtues that helped him perform at the highest level.
“My mother played basketball and that is how I inherited the speed. She was extremely fast and agile on the court. I learned to be organised from my dad, in terms of preparation and in life itself,” said Paes.