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Bronze medal loss still hurts: Paes

August 24, 2004 21:18 IST

The thought about missing the Olympic bronze medal by a whisker is still rankling India's ace tennis player Leander Paes, who says the close defeat will haunt him for a long time to come.

Paes says he is trying to take the narrow defeat philosophically and keeping himself busy by watching the other Indians athletes in action at the Games.

Even four days after that fateful Saturday night, which saw the 'Indian Express' derail at the Olympic Games, Paes cannot help talking about the disappointment that has gripped his partner Mahesh Bhupathi and him.

"When I think of it, it still hurts. It is so disappointing that we could not win a medal," Paes said, reflecting on the defeat in the bronze medal match.

The fifth seeded pair suffered a heart-wrenching defeat against the Croatian pair of Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic in a marathon play-off that ran well past midnight.

Fortunes fluctuated from one team to the other before the Indian duo succumbed in the battle that lasted close to four hours.

The 31-year-old turned up at the hockey venue on Monday night to watch India's last Group B league match against Argentina and sat with his trainer in a corner of the gallery, before a few Indian media men joined him.

"It was such a close match. We got very good support from the spectators and also the media. But we have to accept the defeat; it is part and parcel of the game," Paes said.

"It is upsetting to have come so close and still return home empty-handed. Even in the 1992 Olympics, Ramesh [Krishnan] and myself had lost to a Croatian pair."

Paes, who had always attended the hockey matches when he was free at past Olympics, had turned up to cheer the team that has been struggling to find any kind of form in the mega event.

"Basically I want to soak in the atmosphere of the Olympics. I know this will be my last Olympics so I want to see as many events as possible and cheer my teammates. Usually I don't get to see much of the events," he said.

Paes intended to spend a couple of more days with the contingent at the Games village before joining the circuit at the US Open in September.

"I will be playing in the mixed doubles and doubles there. David Rikl will be my doubles partner at the US Open," he said.

The tennis ace is enjoying his stay at the Games village and interacting with the country's other sports persons, fully aware that he may not be around when the Games are held in Beijing four years later.


Complete coverage of India's campaign | Athens 2004

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