Juliet Dunlop: Sporting summer to remember – or forget
A CRACKED rib is no laughing matter. It hurts like hell to laugh – or cough or sneeze. At least no-one can see your injury, in my case, the result of a bump in the car on a wet June morning.
Thank God for painkillers and the small brown pills that have made me, almost, wince-free.
So, it is from this standpoint, the view of a fellow crock relying on prescription drugs to get through the working day, that I felt a rush of sympathy for Andy Murray this week. Our great Wimbledon hope has been taking some stick of late over his injuries. Virginia Wade – the last Brit to win a Wimbledon singles title – even questioned whether Murray’s aches and pains were real. Wade branded him a “drama queen” after a bad back saw him struggle at the French Open.
Murray, who has known Wade since he was child, was understandably stung and felt the need to hit back with a detailed description of his treatment: “If someone is going to say to me that my back injury is not genuine, they can come and see my reports from the doctors, they can see the pictures of a needle about eight inches long in my back,” said a seething Murray. “I’m not accepting criticism any more, because it’s not fair.”
Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, John McEnroe added his voice to the barrage of confidence-sapping abuse.
As a former tennis great turned commentator, you’d think he’d have had some encouraging words for Murray – he has in the past – but not any more. The once brattish McEnroe instead suggested that Murray’s problems could be more mental than physical.
Murray, of course, is no stranger to criticism. He’s a bit of a magnet in that respect. He isn’t Tim “nice but dim” Henman. He isn’t big on smiles, or interviews or the media generally. He is serious and private and probably rather shy.
He’s also stuck in a dreadful limbo of being supremely talented but so far, not quite good enough to beat the very best.
Every year, we build him up and tear him down.
This year, the carping just started early. A lot of it is down to frustration.
Murray is really, really good but not great. He’s yet to win a grand slam and the dream of lifting the prize at Wimbledon is still just that.
And that’s what people can’t quite forgive – the not winning.
For some fans, Murray is just turning up and cashing the cheques. Sometimes, the burden of hope is just too great.
The same sense of deep injustice was on show at Euro 2012. England ghosted into the tournament, expectations were low and the players kept their heads down.
Then suddenly England made it to the quarter-final.
Sunday’s nail-biting penalty shoot-out against Italy was only ever going to go one way but the fans and the players dared to dream. Then the inevitable happened – they bottled it.
First Ashley Young missed and then Ashley Cole. Suddenly it was ashes to ashes in Kiev.
England simply weren’t good enough but a few fans, looking to blame someone, took to Twitter. This week police launched an investigation into the alleged racial abuse of Young and Cole on the social networking site. It’s sad when losing leads to this kind of bile.
So, what’s next in our never-ending summer of sport?
Why, the Olympics of course. It’s in London, just in case that’s somehow passed you by, and expectations are higher than ever.
The Olympic torch has travelled through the land, the rings are in place and the stadium is finished. There are 36 different sports to cheer and shout at, from archery to wrestling, beach volleyball to trampolining.
You could say there are more things to fail at than ever before – a sporting smorgasbord of disappointment, also-rans and bottlers.
Team GB is bound to win a few medals – the haul was pretty impressive in Beijing – but in the end it’s the taking part that counts, not the winning.
Or is it the other way round?
Come on Andy, make it a summer to remember!
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West