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I know this post has got nothing to do with me in a way but in a distant way it reflects my feelings watching the recent developments involving one of my favorite sport personalities Leander Paes. To me, its not always been about the sport but more about the spirit and the heroic trait of that being, in victory or in defeat.

I still remember that Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan in the Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 play-off which was tied at 2-2. I remember how everyone became restive as he began to tire and commit less towards some points. He gave the impression that he had lost it. His regular conferences with doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi made people wonder what was up. He received medical aid that made people confirm to themselves that not before long, he would be finished and Pakistan would win.

Paes came alive in the fifth set, started to chip and run and outgun a younger but now tiring Aqeel.

And after it was all over, he submitted to all the physical punishment he went through to crumble to the ground and cry with joy. “It was not about tennis today. It was all about head, heart and patriotism,” he later said.

Patriotism Leander, Yeah and look at the reward for all the tears and the commitment.

A reward for being honest and outspoken.

A reward for playing for the nation rather than opening up a sports academy for people.

A reward for being passionate for the thing you love which is playing for India.

This is just a case of jealousy and greed overpowering any honest introspections. To underline my facts, Amritraj and Bopanna have said that the captain(Leander) was trying to hog the limelight by playing those matches, which they could have won easily.
The fact is that same Rohan Bopanna had lost his first singles (against Pakistan’s Aisam Qureshi) and was not high on confidence at all. To say that Bopanna could have defeated Qureshi at that point is BS.

Mahesh might be a better player than Leander at the moment but its always been Paes who has played for the pride of the nation.

There might be some inside stuff which is not Public Knowledge but a lot of stuff is Public knowledge including the facts that Mahesh Bhupathi made Sania Mirza skip the Tournament in India recently as his globo sport company lost contract for the Bangalore open. Prakash Amritraj – The US returned NRI who was disqualified from US , wants to now play for India as he is kicked out of US circuit. Only achievement being son of great Vijay Amritraj. Rohan Bopanna – another boy from Bhupathi tennis academy.

Every time he is pushed to the limit, Paes rises like a phoenix from the ashes. No doubt he rose from a near fatal disease to play at the international circuit for India. Few people in professional sports can put country above self-interest and Leander tops the list of such proud Indians. I don’t care if he never plays with Bhupathi again. Leander is and would always be the ONLY sportsman India has produced whose passion for the sport increases million fold when hes playing for the nation rather than when he plays for himself in ATP’s or Grand Slams.


Leander You are a champion, No matter what…

February 2008
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