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

Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 06:  Yuliya Stepanova looks on after finishing last in the Womens 800m heats during day one of the 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 6, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for European Athletics )
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Whistleblower Yulia Stepanova‘s hopes of competing in the Summer Olympics are all but over. Her fight to expose doping and corruption is not.

“It’s OK to lose a good fight,” Stepanova’s husband, Vitaly Stepanov, told The Associated Press on Monday.

They have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision, handed down Sunday, that denies Stepanova a chance at competing in the Rio Games, which begin Aug. 5. The decision, the Stepanovs claim, is based on incorrect information, including the IOC’s framing of Stepanova’s decision to become a whistleblower as a too-little-too-late desperation play made after the Russian team had cast her aside.

It’s a conclusion that both the World Anti-Doping Agency and track’s governing body, the IAAF, disagree with; both recommended Stepanova be allowed to compete in Rio.

But Stepanov said he received several signals that the IOC would not go along, beginning with a general lack of interest from the key decision makers. He said that during the push for Olympic eligibility, he spoke with two separate IOC officials for a total of 90 minutes.

“I think what the IOC didn’t do is spend enough time to understand how big the problem is in Russia and how much covering up is happening in Russian sports,” he said.

Stepanova was the 800-meter runner who was entrenched in the Russian doping system but later came forward with details about the cheating. That triggered investigations that led to the banning of the Russian track team from the Olympics. After receiving more information about Russian sports as a whole, the IOC opted against a ban of the entire Russian team.

Part of that decision included a ruling that any Russian with a previous doping ban would not be allowed in Rio. That includes Stepanova, though the legality of that ruling is in question: In 2011, the Court of Arbitration for Sport invalidated the IOC’s Rule 45, which called for Olympic bans for any athlete who’d served more than a six-month doping penalty. CAS said it amounted to double jeopardy.

It was one of several facets from the decision handed down Sunday that indicated the difficulty the IOC had in finding the right balance between, as president Thomas Bach called it, “individual justice and collective responsibility.” There also were political concerns; a Russian official addressed the IOC executive board and told members not to cave into geopolitical pressure.

While Russia largely welcomed the decision, it was roundly criticized by those in the anti-doping world. The move to ban Stepanova was widely viewed as the worst part of the judgment.

“The decision to refuse her entry in to the Games is incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Stepanov said his wife got a bout of the stomach flu on Sunday – making a bad day that much worse.

She was training for the Olympics, knowing that if she made it, she would not compete for a medal, the way she had in the past.

“Her goal is to participate,” Stepanov said. “In my view, she deserved to be an Olympian a lot more than when she was a doped athlete.”

But the odds are against her.

Stepanov said there is no money to fund an appeal to CAS, which would have the last say on her possible ban.

“Sunday was a day to cry a little, to get disappointed,” Stepanov said. “But today’s Monday. We feel we’re trying to fight for the right thing, so we wake up and start fighting again.”

MORE: Russian whistleblower denied bid to compete in Rio Olympics

Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

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