Andy Murray

Andy Murray details 2012 Olympics in autobiography excerpt

1 Comment

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

Lindsey Vonn sets date for proposal to enter men’s race

ALTENMARKT/ZAUCHENSEE, AUSTRIA - JANUARY 15: Lindsey Vonn of USA celebrates during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Downhill on January 15, 2017 in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee, Austria (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. Ski Team plans to submit a proposal in the spring for Lindsey Vonn to be able to race against men in November 2018, according to the Denver Post.

“I know I’m not going to win, but I would like to at least have the opportunity to try,” Vonn said, according to the newspaper. “I think I’ve won enough World Cups where I should have enough respect within the industry to be able to have that opportunity.”

Vonn’s idea is to race in Lake Louise, Canada, an annual late fall stop on both the men’s and women’s World Cup schedules. The men generally race in Lake Louise one week before the women do.

Vonn’s greatest success has come at Lake Louise, with 18 victories in 41 downhill and super-G starts dating to 2001.

Vonn previously requested in 2012 to be able to race against men in Lake Louise, but that was denied by the International Ski Federation (FIS). The federation said then “that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other.”

It doesn’t look like the federation’s stance has changed.

“You can set up a day where a female racer can compete against men racers, just as a show, but it has nothing to do with competition,” FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal said, according to the Denver Post. “I don’t see that it’s going to change in the next years — no driving forces to urge a change like that. This is something the teams could do also in training. But why would you want to have a competition in this direction?

“I just don’t see the interest. For me it’s a meaningless comparison. It doesn’t matter if she’s one second behind or a half-second ahead. We compete female against female and men against men. To me it doesn’t matter if one gender is faster or slower. It doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, just because it’s of interest to one racer. I haven’t heard of any other sport being dragged into this kind of position.”

Vonn raced for the first time in 322 days on Sunday, finishing 13th in a World Cup downhill in Austria. It was actually an encouraging result, as Vonn said she wasn’t skiing to her limit in her first race back.

Her upcoming goals are to compete in the 2018 Olympics, after missing Sochi due to injury, and earn 11 more World Cup wins to break Ingemar Stenmark‘s career record of 86 victories. She can overtake Stenmark next season if she stays healthy and continues to win at her usual pace.

Vonn said in the spring that she would postpone retirement by one year and compete in the 2018-19 season if it meant being able to race the men.

But Skaardal’s comments suggest that won’t be possible.

“It’s definitely frustrating to hear that he said that, because I respect Atle very much,” Vonn said, according to the Denver Post. “He does a great job on the World Cup, and he is a former racer, so he understands. It’s disappointing to hear he doesn’t support it. But maybe if we organize something and a plan is put in front of him, maybe he would change his mind. I think most of the men are supporting me.”

Vonn is expected to race this weekend in a downhill and super-G in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany, streamed live on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: Bode Miller plans to race next season, U.S. coach says

Wayne Gretzky compares Hayley Wickenheiser to NHL legend

Leave a comment

The greatest male hockey player of all time paid the greatest female player of all time quite the compliment at her retirement ceremony Saturday.

“You played with heart, desire, finesse, speed, skill,” Wayne Gretzky said to Hayley Wickenheiser. “The only other person, the greatest player to ever live, I think he would be happy if I said you were the female Gordie Howe. Congratulations.”

The Canadian legend Wickenheiser announced her retirement Friday, after six Olympics and four gold medals. On Saturday, she was honored before a Calgary Flames-Edmonton Oilers game. A highlight was a speech by Gretzky, who now works in the Oilers’ front office.

Wickenheiser’s first Olympics, Nagano 1998, marked the only Winter Games for Gretzky. Gretzky played in the first Olympics with NHL participation in Nagano, finishing fourth with Canada, and retired in 1999 without an Olympic medal.

“You’ve opened so many doors for so many young girls to be able to one day win a gold medal,” Gretzky said to Wickenheiser. “To me, that’s more important than anything.”

Wickenheiser then took the mic at center ice and reciprocated.

“A big part of why I play the game is because of this man standing right here, Wayne Gretzky,” she said, later adding, according to Canadian media, “In Salt Lake City [2002] when we won the gold medal, the first two people I saw when we stepped off the ice were Wayne and [former Oilers All-Star defenseman] Kevin [Lowe] standing in our dressing room cheering for us.”

As part of the Wickenheiser ceremony, a tribute video was played including messages from Canadian Olympian and Hall of Famer Mark Messier, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

MORE: Amanda Kessel sets sights on 2018 Olympics