Andy Murray has just won Olympic Gold in what was one of the most breathtaking examples of determination, talent and focus that I have ever witnessed in all the years I have been watching tennis.
Four years ago, Andy Murray became my bedfellow for a couple of terrible days. I was on holiday in Jersey and on the second day got a horrific muscle spasm in my back which meant that I was laid low in agony for the remaining ten days on that lovely island. I had brought Andy Murray’s autobiography with me for holiday-reading and found it one of the most engrossing books I have ever read – and I have read a fair few tennis biographies and autobiographies in my time.
The idea that a boy from Scotland, who was in the school in Dunblane when that terrible shooting occurred, was dreaming of becoming the world’s greatest tennis player just captured my imagination. This was someone with a dream and vision who knew everything there was to know about how hard-work and sacrifices, and not just natural talent, are what makes a champion.
Since his defeat to the great Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Final just 28 days ago, I have been hoping, hoping, hoping that he could finally make the biggest breakthrough of his career and win Olympic Gold. From early this morning I felt that today he would shine. I had a perfect lead up to the match. The sun was beating down as I went for an early swim in Tramore Bay here in Co. Waterford in the south-east of Ireland. I floated in the calm sea looking up at the blue sky hoping that I could bring some extra energy and joie de vivre to Andy Murray. I was thinking of how his spirit had helped so much to carry me through the agony of those pain-ridden days in Jersey and I truly wanted to see him overcome the agony of his Wimbledon defeat by taking gold in what was like a second bite of the cherry against Federer on the Centre Court.
What a brilliant, unwavering performance! There must have been moments when Murray felt that Federer would come searing back into the match but he kept his cool and treated us to a display of brilliance – all that pent up talent finally flowed – and more than anything his ace on match point proved that he has finally come of age.
Andy Murray’s Olympic Gold will be an inspiration to young tennis players right across Great Britain and Ireland. But more than that, he is living proof to us all that dreams can become reality and that defeats can be turned into victories.