Paes: Inspired by Olympic history

"In January 2015, I really wanted to make it to Rio, and then as I started working towards it," says Leander Paes.

Leander Paes will be competing in a record seventh Olympics.   -  PTI

"My dream was always to win an Olympic medal — like my Dad. Play in the Olympics first, win a medal and emulate Dad, and be the best Olympic athlete ever in India,” he said. “But I didn’t know then that this journey (winning the Olympic bronze medal) would be so long. I didn’t realise the uncertainties of life, uncertainties of professional sport — they don’t give you any guarantee.”

“One of my big motivators, the man I look up to, shooter Raja Randhir Singh, has played in six, the same as me," says Paes, who will be competing in his seventh Olympics, a world record for any international tennis player to have played the most number of Games.

“If I wanted to play and if I am motivated, and if the Davis Cup team needs me, I could play Davis Cup for another five years — comfortably.

So, what is it that motivates Leander at this age?

“The History,” was his prompt answer. “The quality of performance is important, not just simply doing it. In January 2015, I really wanted to make it to Rio, and then as I started working towards it, I started winning Grand Slam titles — I won three last year, and that’s a lot,” Leander said.

(Excerpts from the interview published in Sportstar on January 30, 2016)