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Paes targets Olympic gold

October 22, 2003 17:10 IST

Indian tennis star Leander Paes, who is recuperating from a brain lesion, is aiming for an Olympic gold medal in Athens next year even though his return to the circuit remains undecided.

"The Olympics is one event I am getting ready for. This time I want to have something better than a bronze... an Olympic gold," Paes said on arrival in Kolkata from Mumbai on Wednesday morning.

The Davis Cup Goliath, who rates success for the country "more than a Wimbledon triumph", termed the Olympic dream as "the single-most driving factor" behind his efforts for early rehabilitation after the prolonged treatment for his illness.

He is, however, still undecided about returning to the circuit for the Doubles Championships in the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston from November 8 to 16.

"I am waiting for the next MRI scan report, to be done by Dr. B S Singhal in Mumbai on October 26/27. I will decide on whether to play or not in Houstan after the scan," he said.

Paes informed he has started working-out in the gymnasium, biking, swimming, doing yoga, meditation and weight training but is still not allowed to play tennis.

"I am on 50 per cent on the threshold of recovery, but the doctors have advised not to play any contact sports or engage in rigorous training."

Once back on court, the 30-year-old doubles ace wants to achieve "two landmarks" in the year ahead. One is taking part in his fourth Olympics and winning a gold medal at Athens while the other is winning four more Davis Cup matches and becoming the second highest match winner in the world team event.

"The first diagnosis [of the brain lesion that he developed in August] shook my world. It is these two goals that motivated me to hold my nerves and fight back," Paes, who was received by his mother Jennifer at the N S C Bose International airport, said.

Asked about his possible reunion with Mahesh Bhupathi, he replied, "We played the Davis Cup and will play the Olympics together.

"I want to play few practice matches with him [Mahesh] before the Olympics. I will talk to Mahesh and look at each other's itinerary before deciding on the schedule. We have to do some homework," Paes said.

In this context, he said, "I would like to extend my hands to him [Bhupathi]. It's upon him to accept."

The seriousness with which he is looking for success at the mega event in Athens is apparent in Paes's frequent mention about his childhood dream of taking part in four Olympics.

"Earning a million dollars or winning at Wimbledon didn't drive me as much as playing for the country in the Olympics, Asian Games or the Davis Cup."

Paes won a bronze medal in the men's singles event at the Atlanta Olympics after going down to Andre Agassi in the semi-finals.

This time he has his sights firmly set on gold. "Maybe in the singles or doubles or in whatever the vehicle be," he said.

Paes, who appeared to have put on a lot of weight, said, "I had put on 18 pounds. During last three weeks I lost 12 pounds and have to reduce another six."

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