SPORT

Olympic gold is Paes' goal

KOLKATA OCT. 22. Indian tennis star Leander Paes reaffirmed his patriotic fervour saying it was the urge to bring greater laurels for the country that inspires him to make a fruitful comeback.

Visiting his home city first time after being diagnosed of neurocysticercosis (a parasitic brain cyst), Paes said on Wednesday that he has set "two goals'' to resume his tennis career.

First is to win a gold in the Athens Olympics next year and the other is to "win four more matches'' in Davis Cup to record the highest number of wins by an Indian.

He said winning for the country is much more valuable than the titles in Wimbledon or Roland Garros. "I come from a family of Olympians, and representing the nation has always inspired me most,'' he said while talking to reporter at the airport.

"I am on the threshold of representing India in the fourth Olympic event. Having won the singles bronze in Atlanta in 1996,'' a gold is what I aim for in Athens and try all the vehicles — singles, doubles or mixed doubles — to fetch it,'' he said.

Paes said he expects to return to active tennis soon but his comeback depends on the MRI scan of his brain that will be done after Diwali (either on Sunday or Monday). On this hangs his prospect of participating in the year ending Masters' doubles that is scheduled at Houston early next month.

He has been advised against rigorous movements till the swelling inside the brain is completely eradicated. Presently he is doing 50 per cent of endurance and intensity training and full weight training to shed some extra pounds and get into shape in time.

He said he plans to start preparing for Athens, especially the doubles event, early and has been discussing the schedule with Mahesh Bhupathi, who will be reliving the old partnership for the world event.

"I would prefer to play a few weeks in January along side Bhupathi to have a proper build-up for Athens. I am willing to extend my hand towards him and it is now upon him (Bhupathi) to accept it,'' he said.

Before signing off, Paes said the last three months of recuperation has brought him closer "to the art of writing'' and the tennis ace is very close to finishing his autobiography, through which he wishes to share with all the adversities, obstacles and triumph of his life.

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