Record breaking Tennis ace Leander Paes, will create history when he participates in the Rio Olympics which kicks off on the 5th of August and goes on until the 21st of August, 2016.
Leander Paes will be competing in his 7th straight Olympic games. This feat will enter the record books as the most appearances for an Indian athlete. He will also become the only tennis player to have featured in seven consecutive Olympic Games. Leander is no stranger to breaking records, as he is the oldest man to win a Grand Slam and has also equaled the record of 42 Davis Cups in doubles tennis.
Leander Paes was born in Kolkata, West Bengal, but is of Goan Origin, on his father’s side and traces his roots to the South Goa village of Velim, where he still has his ancestral house. He is also the sports ambassador of Haryana state and is looked up to as a positive sporting role model in the country.
The 43 year-old, has had a strong sporting foundation drummed into him from a very young age, as both his parents were Sports stars. His father, Dr. Vece Paes won a bronze medal with the Indian Hockey team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. His mother, Jennifer captained the Indian Women’s Basketball team at the 1980 Asian Basketball championship.
Leander’s Olympic run:
- 1992 –Barcelona (Reached quarter finals of doubles with Ramesh Krishnan)
- 1996- Atlanta (Won Individual Olympic Bronze medal, after losing out to Andre Agassi in Semi-final)
- 2000- Sydney (carried Indian national flag at opening ceremony)
- 2004 – Athens (Reached semi-final in doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi)
- 2008- Beijing (Paes/ Bhupati eliminated by Roger Federer/Stanislas Warinka in quarter-finals)
- 2012- London (Partners with Vishnu Vardhan. Lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/ Michael Llodra)
- 2016 –Rio (To partner with Rohan Bopanna in doubles)
After learning his trade at the Amritraj Tennis Academy in Chennai, Leander started his career on a high, by winning the Junior US Open and Junior Wimbledon crowns. This took him to number 1 in the World Junior rankings. Leander turned professional in 1991.
Despite having individual success, he has become more famous for his almost telepathic team work with partners in Doubles and Mixed doubles tennis, which has seen him achieve success with renowned champions such as Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis. He has won a career total off 55 doubles titles till date, which includes 8 doubles and 10 mixed doubles. Grand Slam titles.
Leander’s achievements on the court have also been recognized by the country. He has the following awards bestowed upon him:
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (1996-7)
- Arjuna Award (1990)
- Padma Shri (2001)
- Padma Bhushan (2014)
Over the last 3 decades, Leander Paes has enjoyed formidable success. Let’s hope he has a super Olympics and continues to inspire more athletes to stay dedicated to their sport especially in Goa.
PHOTO COURTESY: India.com