Andy Murray

Andy Murray details 2012 Olympics in autobiography excerpt

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Andy Murray provided an inside look at his run to 2012 Olympic gold in an excerpt from his autobiography posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

The book is titled “Seventy-Seven,” the number of years between Wimbledon wins for British men between Fred Perry in 1936 and Murray in 2013. It will go on sale on Amazon in the United Kingdom on Thursday.

In the 1,300-word excerpt, Murray wrote about the British people’s fears going into the Olympics — “terrible traffic problems, potential security problems and ticketing issues” among them.

“People thought the opening ceremony would not be as good as in Beijing, but it proved to be an incredible spectacle,” he wrote.

Once the Olympics started, the concern was an early British drought. It took until the fifth day of the Games for the host nation to win a gold medal.

“Everything was negative again,” Murray wrote. “But once the first gold arrived, then another, then a couple more, it all changed. There was nothing to complain about anymore and the whole nation was carried along on a wave of excitement.”

Then Murray detailed his run to the gold-medal match at Wimbledon, beating Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 in the semifinals to set up a rematch of the 2012 Wimbledon final with Roger Federer.

Federer had beaten Murray 4–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–4 less than a month earlier and was seeking his first Olympic singles gold medal. But Murray prevailed on Centre Court, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, noticing a shift in fan support from the Wimbledon final.

“The Wimbledon final was fairly split,” he wrote, “but in the Olympics the support for me was amazing.”

Here’s the full excerpt from Murray’s Facebook account:

“In advance of the Games, the stories had all been about the prospect of terrible traffic problems, potential security problems and ticketing issues. People thought the opening ceremony would not be as good as in Beijing, but it proved to be an incredible spectacle.

Then a few days in, it was all: ‘We haven’t won a gold yet’. Everything was negative again. But once the first gold arrived, then another, then a couple more, it all changed. There was nothing to complain about anymore and the whole nation was carried along on a wave of excitement. The athletes performed better than anyone was expecting – career-best performances, golds, silvers, glorious achievements – and I put a lot of that down to the positive momentum all around. As an individual sportsman, I’d certainly never experienced anything like it.

I managed to make good progress through my first four rounds, only losing one set to Marcos Baghdatis, who challenged me really hard again. Then, after I defeated Nicolás Almagro of Spain on No.1 Court, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge amongst the spectators, I was into the semi-finals to play Novak again. I spoke to Ivan the evening before and his message was the same as usual: to impose my game on the match, play the game on my terms and not to lose running around with my arse against the back fence.

I managed to execute the game plan, turning in one of my most complete performances of the year. In windy conditions I thought I struck the ball really well. In the first set there were some tremendous rallies, but the second set, by comparison, wasn’t quite as good. Novak had a lot of break points, but I served really well and hung tough in those moments and just managed to get the break myself in the end.The atmosphere was unbelievable, different to anything I’d experienced before. I’d always said that the night matches at the US Open had the best atmosphere, but they weren’t even close to what it was like against Novak.

I celebrated victory in the normal way until I sat down in the chair. Suddenly, I leapt up again, as if electricity was surging through my body. I’d realised I had guaranteed myself an Olympic medal.

The final would be a rematch against Roger for Olympic gold. It was being billed as a revenge mission, but going into matches trying to get revenge for something that’s happened in the past actually doesn’t help at all. I always try to focus on the task in hand and not dwell on what I should or might have done before. There is nothing you can do to bring it back.

One thing that I appreciated might make a difference was that Roger had not played for an Olympic gold in the singles before. Almost every other time I had played him, he had experienced the situations way, way more times than me. It’s so rare for him to be in a position where he’s trying to do something new because he’s experienced and achieved so much in tennis. I hoped that would level the playing field psychologically.

Of course, I would need to play fantastic tennis to win and I wanted it to be a great match because I think the way the matches went on semi-finals day the tournament deserved a great final and I hoped we could provide that.

Roger had beaten Juan Martín del Potro 3-6, 7-6,19-17 in the other semi-final. At four hours and 26 minutes, it was the longest match in Olympic history and one of the finest matches ever seen on Centre Court. It was a truly amazing spectacle – and some of the rallies had to be seen to be believed. Juan Martín took his defeat like the big man he is, and Roger got very emotional after his win. Perhaps, like me, that was partly due to the enormous relief that he was going to win an Olympic medal. Coming into the semi- finals, with the quality of players in that last four, there was definitely no guarantee of that. Though I really wanted to win gold, I wanted to at least come away with a medal. If I had lost the semi- final, I would have been playing Juan Martín for the bronze and that would have been very tough, as Novak discovered, losing and walking away with nothing to show for his efforts. After what had happened to me at Wimbledon a month before, that would have been another huge let down.

Laura Robson and I were progressing well in the mixed doubles, too. The day before my singles final we had to play twice, defeating two Australian Grand Slam champions, Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur, in the quarter-final and Christopher Kas and Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the semis. It was good to spend the day occupied with something other than thinking about how the singles might go, even better to finish it with the guarantee of another medal. In the final, we would play Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka from Belarus. Had the singles been best-of-five sets throughout, I would not have been able to play all three events, but with best-of-three format and the doubles scoring, it was all quick and I wanted to try to win as many medals as I could. If I won the mixed doubles at the US Open, no one would be that fussed. To me this was a really big deal, and the same went for Laura.

The atmosphere on finals day was nerve-tingling once again. So many were decked out in Union Jack colours, every spectator seemed to have a flag. I would imagine for Roger, the fact that the fans were so obviously in my corner must have been a shock for him. He’s been on that court so many times and the British have great affection for him. The Wimbledon final was fairly split, but in the Olympics the support for me was amazing. When the crowd is right behind you, it does make a huge difference – it makes you perform better, the opponent can feel intimidated, and when things are going well it is easier to carry that momentum through a match. Against Roger, this time, I didn’t let up at all.

The middle part of the match was, without doubt, the best I’d played in my career to that point. I’m not saying Roger played his best match, but the support of the crowd and the momentum from everyone else in every other sport doing so well seemed to carry me along. I just felt right the whole match.

I finished it with three big serves in a row. I think he only got a racket on a couple of them. I was serving for the biggest title of my career and I served as well as I had ever done.

In the moments after a special match like this there are certain people you want to be with. Not everyone got to see what I was really like after Wimbledon, even though Kim and my mum and dad would have known how I was feeling. They had seen me lose so many of those matches before. That made me doubt myself – and maybe they doubted me as well – so it was great to be able to spend two or three seconds with them straight after I’d won. They knew all the work that went into the victory and how many tough losses there had been along the way. Out of all of the things that happened to me in 2012,winning the gold medal was the proudest moment.”

Here’s Murray getting pelted with tennis balls while accepting an award:

Vonn challenges Federer to tennis or golf

Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi lead U.S. Olympic marathon team

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Galen Rupp and Meb Keflezighi shared nothing in marathon running before the U.S. Olympic trials on Saturday, but the two men from vastly different backgrounds were together, alone, leading the race with five miles left.

Rupp, 29, pulled away to win in 2:11:12 on the streets of Los Angeles. The former Oregon Catholic high school prodigy became the first American to make an Olympic marathon team in his 26.2-mile debut since 1968.

Keflezighi, a 40-year-old born in war-torn Eritrea who moved to the U.S. in 1987, crossed the finish line 68 seconds later in second place. He will become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time in Rio in August.

Rupp and Keflezighi, the only U.S. men to make an Olympic podium in distances longer than 1500m since 1984, were so close to each other in their three-mile leading stretch that their Olympic silver medals could have clanked against each other had they been wearing them.

Keflezighi, in his 23rd marathon and in front of Rupp at the time, didn’t take kindly to the six-inches-taller marathon rookie breathing on him. He let Rupp know about it on the streets of LA.

“It’s not a track, the road is open,” Keflezighi recalled in a press conference, shortly before exchanging a laughter-inducing glance with Rupp, who fittingly walked in to sit on a stool to Keflezighi’s immediate right mid-answer. “It was not a very friendly conversation.”

Now Rupp and Keflezighi are U.S. Olympic marathon teammates. Along with Jared Ward, who finished third Saturday, 1:47 behind Rupp, to make his first Olympics.

Full results are here.

In the women’s race, Amy CraggDesi Linden and Shalane Flanagan were the top three, all returning to the Olympics, with Flanagan collapsing at the finish line. Full recap here.

Rupp and Keflezighi broke away on their own around the 20th mile. Rupp then dropped Keflezighi in the 23rd mile. The reigning Olympic 10,000m silver medalist fist pumped crossing the finish line.

“It was a bit of a change running the marathon, but there’s no bigger honor than being able to represent your country at the Olympics,” Rupp then told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and a pre-race favorite with Keflezighi and Rupp, dropped out of the race around mile 20 in the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials of all time. The temperature at the men’s start at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees.

The Rio Olympic men’s marathon will be on Aug. 21, the final day of the Games. Keflezighi’s 2004 silver is the only U.S. men’s marathon medal since Frank Shorter took gold in 1972 and silver in 1976.

Rupp has said he prefers the 10,000m and might not race the marathon at the Olympics. If he doesn’t, the fourth-place trials finisher, Luke Puskedra, will move onto the team.

“I think [Rupp] is a 2:05 [marathon] guy, someday,” Rupp’s coach, three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, told media after Saturday’s race. (The fastest American marathoner of all time, Ryan Hall, clocked a best of 2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.)

Rupp could contest two races in Rio, the 10,000m (Aug. 13 final) and the marathon, or the 10,000m and the 5000m (Aug. 20). Rupp finished seventh in the 5000m in London.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10, in a USATF interview published Jan. 28. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

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Amy Cragg wins marathon trials; Shalane Flanagan collapses at finish

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No doubt Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan bonded as training partners en route to the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, escaping a black bear the clearest example.

They couldn’t have been closer after finishing first and third to make the Olympic team Saturday.

Flanagan collapsed in Cragg’s arms two strides after the finish line at the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials ever in Los Angeles. She was then helped into a wheelchair.

Cragg won the race in 2:28:20, redeeming after she finished fourth to miss the team by one spot at the 2012 trials. Flanagan came in third Saturday to make her fourth Olympic team, 25 seconds behind second-place Desi Linden and 58 seconds behind Cragg.

Full results are here.

Cragg, 32, waited for Flanagan at the finish line, holding an American flag, hugging Flanagan and then, suddenly, keeping the 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist from falling onto the pavement.

Flanagan, the 2012 trials winner and a pre-race favorite, said there was a point in the 26.2 miles where she thought she was “done.”

Cragg talked her through it. They spent most of the final half of the race alone in the lead.

“Sweet baby Jesus, I’m so thankful for [Cragg],” Flanagan, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner ever, said minutes after finishing, with an ice pack over her shoulders, clutching a water bottle in her right hand and holding onto Cragg’s right shoulder with her left hand.

Cragg held up Flanagan during the interview and then helped her back into the wheelchair.

The temperature at the start of the men’s race at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees, hottest ever at a marathon trials (the first trials were in 1968). The women began 16 minutes later.

Cragg finished fourth at the 2012 marathon trials, then made that Olympic team in the 10,000m on the track and finished 11th in London in her Olympic debut. She moved from Providence, R.I., to Portland, Ore., in the fall to join Flanagan’s training group.

“Finishing fourth, looking back on it now, was so good for me,” Cragg told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It made me more determined than ever as an athlete. I’ve worked really hard the last four years, basically, to move up one spot.

“I just knew, training with Shalane, would give me all the confidence I need.”

Cragg dropped Flanagan in the final two miles. Before that, she said she asked Flanagan if she was OK. Flanagan replied, no, I’m not.

“She seemed like she was even struggling a little bit just to say that,” Cragg said. “Before the last water stop, I kind of looked at her, and she was turning bright red. I knew the heat was getting to her. I told her, I’m going to get you a water bottle, dump the whole thing on your head.”

Linden, arguably the pre-race co-favorite with Flanagan, repeated her 2012 trials finish of second place, surging in the final mile past Flanagan.

At the London Olympics, Linden pulled out 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

“It’s been this Sisyphean task where I get to the top, and then the rock crumbles down,” Linden said Saturday. “I want to do it better this time.”

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher was fourth. She plans to compete at the track trials in July in Eugene, Ore., to go for Rio.

Goucher finished 65 seconds behind Flanagan, her former training partner, and said she missed workouts last week while sick. The 37-year-old said she may have picked up an illness from her 5-year-old son, Colt.

“I kept asking myself if I was doing all that I could, and I was,” Goucher told media, in tears. “They were just better. … I didn’t fight this hard to just fold right now, so yeah, I’ll be trying to make the 10k team [at track trials in July].”

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