Torch relay brings Paes, Bhupathi closer
Off the court, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi don't see eye-to-eye, but today's Olympic torch relay made them run side-by-side as the two buried their hatchet for a while to make a joint appearance.
IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh had fetched the flame from filmstar Aamir Khan to find the 'Indian Express' pair of Paes and Bhupathi waiting together for the final phase of the 2.3 km relay that ended at the India Gate where a large cauldron was waiting to be lit.
The duo, who have fought many a tennis battle shoulder to shoulder, held the torch aloft and ambled towards the cauldron atop a raised platform.
They climbed the stairs together and lit the cauldron as the assembled crowd burst in spontaneous cheers.
Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi could not hide his joy at seeing the duo together.
"It was great to see them together. By doing so, they showed they would be our guiding force at the Beijing Olympics," Kalmadi enthused.
Bhupathi was excited after running the relay and said, "It was a unique experience and it would remain a special day for me."
Asked how it felt running together with Paes, Bhupathi quipped, "I guess it made a good photograph for the newspapers."
The already strained relation between country's top tennis stars had worsened of late with Paes being quoted in an interview saying he
made a mistake by opting to play doubles with Bhupathi, a decision that cost him his singles career.
The Davis Cup captain, however, later denied making the remarks.
Bhupathi, on his part, led a players' revolt against Paes earlier this year, refusing to play under his captaincy in the Davis Cup.