Olympics 2016: Bitter Leander Paes claims Rio campaign was sabotaged, eyes 2020 Tokyo Games - Firstpost
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Olympics 2016: Bitter Leander Paes claims Rio campaign was sabotaged, eyes 2020 Tokyo Games


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Rio de Janeiro: Leander Paes made a bitter exit from his record seventh Olympics on Saturday, claiming his campaign had been sabotaged before eyeing the 2020 Tokyo Games – when he will be 47.

Paes and Rohan Bopanna were defeated 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) by Poland's Lukas Kubot and Marcin Matkowski in the first round.

The 18-time major winner lashed out at reports that he had refused to stay in the athletes' village in Rio and did not want to share a room with Bopanna.

The reports came after it was claimed Bopanna had not wanted to partner Paes, preferring instead the younger Saketh Myneni.

Leander Paes added that he was optimistic about making an eighth Olympic appearance in 2020. AP

Leander Paes added that he was optimistic about making an eighth Olympic appearance in 2020. AP

"It was unfair I was targeted. It wasn't fair that some people said I didn't want to stay in the village or share with Rohan," said Paes.

"It was a personal shot and it upset me. It's not right that people write the wrong information."

It was a sad end for the Paes, coming on the 20th anniversary of his bronze medal in singles at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Paes said he is serious about playing in Tokyo in four years' time although the authorities in India may have reservations after a second Olympics dominated by selection rows.

In 2012, Mahesh Bhupathi was teamed with Bopanna in the men's doubles.

As part of a compromise, Paes, who had threatened to pull out of the Games, reluctantly played with Vishnu Vardhan in the men's doubles while being controversially teamed with Sania Mirza in the mixed

Mirza raged that she was being used as "bait".

"If possible, I will be in Japan. Four years is a long time but I said that when I played my fourth Olympics," added Paes.

The veteran, whose Atlanta bronze was India's first individual medal at a Games since 1952, admitted Saturday's loss was tough to take.

"But we win and lose together. To get to seven Olympics is not easy, there's a lot of hard work week in, week out," said Paes.

"We will roll with the punches. I am grateful to Rohan for working with me and playing hard.

"There's a lot going on at the moment, but we tried to stay focussed on the tennis. We tried our damnedest."

India still have hopes of a medal in tennis at the Games.

Bopanna will partner Mirza in the mixed later in the week.

Before that Mirza, the top ranked women's doubles player in the world, teams with Prathana Thombare.

First Published On : Aug 7, 2016 14:47 IST

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