London: Having lost the second round match of the men’s doubles event at the London Games, Mahesh Bhupathi’s long-cherished dream of winning an Olympic medal will remain unfulfilled as he would not be a part of the next edition in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’ll be supporting Rohan from the stands. I will definitely not be playing in Rio,” said Bhupathi after he along with his partner Rohan Bopanna lost their match last night.
Bhupathi said that failing to win an Olympic medal will be one of his biggest regrets and he will have to come to terms with the fact.
“I guess I’ll have to die without an Olympic medal. It’s definitely not something that’s going to be in the cupboard but we gave it a good shot, and the last four times as well (at previous Games).
“We came close before and came here with ideal preparation. The mind wanted it, the heart wanted it, but the limbs stopped, so unfortunately we came out on the bad end of the stick,” he said.
Bhupathi and Bopanna, whose insistence to play together sparked off a selection row ahead of the London Olympics, lost against wildcard entrants Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet of France, and Bhupathi took the blame for the debacle, saying he let the team down with a below par performance in the match.
“Losing this match is a tough pill to swallow, as we thought we had a legitimate chance. We’re not here to play and have fun. I’m personally very disappointed with how I played today.
“Under pressure I have been able to deliver and this time I wasn’t. All credit to Rohan. The last two matches he played were the best two matches of the year so far. I feel I have let the team down,” he added.
On what playing for India meant to him, Bhupathi said, “The disappointment should speak for itself. While growing up every kid dreams of playing for the country. I’ve been playing for India for such a long time but to stand on the podium is a dream for every athlete.”
Bopanna, meanwhile, said they played some good points but were not consistent enough to get past the French pair.
“We played some good points and we can’t be too negative about it. And hats off to them for playing well on the big points.”
Bopanna denied that their preparation for London 2012 was affected by disputes in India team’s tennis squad. “As we have said for the 25 thousandth time, we have left that in the past. You (the media) are the guys that keep bringing that up. We have moved on,” said Bopanna.
Asked if he had been crying as his eyes looked red, Bopanna said with a laugh that it was a “just some chilli powder”.
He said it was a great experience to be part of the Olympics and he will draw positives from this. “Walking out in the stadium at the Opening Ceremony was a fantastic moment for me, being my first Olympics. Just to be a part of this thing is wonderful and I will take a lot of experience from it,” said Bopanna.