Four-time hockey Olympian, Dhanraj Pillay, was of the opinion that differences between two Indian tennis stalwarts, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, will be pushed into the background once competitions commence at the London Olympics 2012. “The Leander Paes I know is a fighter and he will fight back. I am confident that once the matches start, all the controversies will be left behind and the players will focus on performance.”
He was speaking at the Monnet ‘Go for Gold’ initiative, aimed at spreading the spirit of sportsmanship across India with 30 days remaining for the London Games to start. Pillay posed with a symbolic torch on Thursday, along with junior athletes’ part of the torch relay from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. “The controversy over selection was avoidable. Both players have differences with each other; it is common knowledge, only this time it got highlighted.”
Asked about Indian men hockey prospects at the London Games, he said: “A top six finish by India will make me very happy. Coach Michael Nobbs has done a good job in the time he has been associated with
Indian hockey. Three to four players were missed out when the Olympic squad was chosen, now is the need to support the national team. Pillay represented India men’s squad at four consecutive Games, from 1992
Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens.
Leander made his Olympic debut at 1992 Barcelona and has qualified for doubles at 2012 London. “Having taking part in four Olympics, I know the sacrifices Leander must have made, in terms of time away from his
family, to compete in five consecutive Games and is now heading for his sixth,” said Pillay. “I have spent time with Leander and Bhupathi at four Olympics, from Barcelona to Athens, and know them as fierce competitors.”
Monnet Ispat & Energy Limited (MIEL), one of the Indian boxing squad sponsors for London 2012, announced cash incentive of Rs 51 lakhs for gold, Rs 21 lakhs for silver and Rs 11 lakhs for a bronze medal won by any of the eight members on the national squad, seven male and one female.
Sandeep Jajodia, CMD of MIEL. Maharashtra State Youth Affairs & Sports Minister, Padmakar Valvi, State Education Minister Rajendra Darda and Shailendra Singh, Percept Limited MP were also present at the Go for Gold torch run.