The Indian express is back! Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes have decided to bury the hatchet and partner each other in the upcoming Beijing Olympics. With the mega event just a mere eight months away, speculation had been ripe about which doubles team would be sent to Beijing. But India’s wonder doubles players have confirmed that they will play together in this event.
Earlier in 2006 after the Doha Asian Games, Leander Paes had questioned Mahesh’s commitment and this may have caused a rift in between them. Both of them had publicly said that they would not be playing as a team again after winning the Gold at the Doha Asian Games. It had all seemed to be over for this terrific duo. But it brings great relief to all their fans that Mahesh and Lee will be playing together. Lee and Mahesh have been really consistent and have always ranked among the top players in doubles. Sadly, they have never got India glory at the Olympics. Leander did win a bronze for India in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
A country of over a billion people but we yet do not have an individual Olympic Gold to show for it. On the other hand Chinese with similar population numbers generally finish within the top three at the Olympics. Indian Sports Infrastructure is abysmal. And there are only a few sports in which it has a serious chance of winning a medal, namely Shooting, Hockey, Weight Lifting and Tennis. India’s best chance of winning a Gold would be in the doubles event where they would have the experience of Paes and Mahesh to sail through. They had earlier won the French Open as well as the Wimbledon in the year 1999 and repeated their French Open victory on clay in the year 2001. These two have also won numerous other grand slams with other partners in the doubles and the mixed doubles category. Mahesh has to get over his back surgery so that he can be completely fit for the Olympics. It will be great if we have both of them playing with full fitness.
If India are to realize their dream of winning a Gold at the Beijing Olympics which will most definitely be the greatest sporting spectacle ever on Earth, its hopes will lie with Paes and Mahesh. These two certainly have the talent and temperament to do it. If they play with their heart and cohesively as a team, they are our best bet at the Olympics. Let’s just hope that their coming together as a team was out of Choice and not out of Compulsion.