Leander Paes confirmed his participation in the Olympics, saying nothing would stop him from representing his country and entering the history books.
Paes chose to make a statement after his victory in the men’s doubles on Thursday. He refused to take questions on the drama surrounding the selection of India’s teams and on Sania Mirza’s criticism of the tennis system.
“I am here to play sports, not politics,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I see the games being played within games, and as much as that is very disheartening, I am looking forward to playing my sixth Olympics for my country as I have played for 22 years for the people and the flag. I deserve to play my sixth Olympics to be in the history books and no one can stop me. I am looking forward to representing my country with the teams that the All India Tennis Association have selected.”
Asked if he was in the right frame of mind to win a medal, he said, “Every Olympics has some nonsense coming in with it. I know how much hard work goes into what I do. (Either) people choose to respect it, which I’m very lucky that India does, (or) people choose to disrespect. That's their problem, not mine.”
He admitted that the standard of doubles in the Olympics would be very high, with the top singles players taking part.
“The only one that I need to worry about is Vishnu [Vardhan]. The poor boy is 307 (sic) in the world and I don’t even know if he has grass-court shoes,” said Paes. “Whatever the obstacles are, which I see are going to be many — he's never been to Wimbledon before — whatever I can do as an experienced professional athlete to help my partners out, I do.”