Leander Paes sets his sights on Tokyo 2020

The veteran tennis player wants to participate in a record eighth Olympic Games.

By Saurabh Shankar ·

As Tokyo 2020 draws closer, one of India’s most seasoned tennis players, Leander Paes has his sights set on a historic eighth Olympic Games. The tennis star turned 46 a few months ago but seems to be in no mood to retire anytime soon, signalling an intent to make the Indian contingent at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“As a youngster, every Sunday morning after church, I used to polish my dad’s Olympic medal. Everything I’ve dreamt for was to play for our flag, play for our people. So if I’m called to play for our country, you can rest assured that I will be there,” said Paes during a press event held for the media launch of the 2020 Australian Open in Mumbai.

“I’ve already got the record for the most number of Olympics played (by an Indian) but I think that an eighth Olympics would be India’s record, and we can make sure that we seal that record of playing eight Olympics on the trot. Anything and everything that I could do to give hope and dreams to our kids that they can be world-beaters in any field, I will do,” added the 18-time Grand Slam winner.

Leander Paes won India's only Olympic medal in tennis at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Tough road ahead 

While Paes holds aspirations to continue chasing an Olympic dream, the road ahead could be difficult for the 1996 Atlanta Games bronze medallist. Divij Sharan recently became the top-ranked Asian tennis player in the men’s doubles category, moving up to 42nd place.

Indian’s second-ranked doubles player Rohan Bopanna is primed to join him if India are to book an Olympic ticket for the men’s doubles category, after he made his intentions clear to pair up with Sharan in an interview with PTI last month.

Therefore, an eighth Olympic dream could end up being on hold for Paes unless he is able to improve his ranking in the coming months leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Games.