The richly deserved knighthood bestowed on Andy Murray, the world’s best tennis player, is good reason for a hearty Hogmanay celebration.
In a world full of political upheaval, Murray’s honour for his tennis and charity work offers a refreshing distraction from the uncertainties and worries of modern life.
The achievements of the proud Scot have been truly remarkable.
With tigerish dedication, he has harnessed and developed his natural talent for the most arduous and competitive of racquet sports. His single-minded determination has seen him conquer the world having brought British tennis back from the wilderness in spectacular fashion.
It has been an incredible journey for the Scot, who grew up in Dunblane in the terrible shadow of the 1996 massacre. With the support of his formidable family, enormous sacrifices have been made in his pursuit of excellence.
The past 12 months have seen him scale new heights. He finished 2016 at the top of the world rankings having added a second Wimbledon title and a second Olympic gold medal to his trophy cabinet.
Murray is now one of Britain’s greatest ever sporting heroes and it is only right that he should be knighted.
Indeed it would have been an unacceptable omission had his brilliance not been recognised in this manner.
He is now elevated to a sporting pantheon which includes the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Ben Ainslie, Sir Steve Redgrave and Dame Kelly Holmes.
Amid a galaxy of sporting knights and dames, Murray’s star arguably shines even brighter than those of his contemporaries. His achievements are all the more extraordinary when one considers the worldwide popularity of his sport and calibre of his opponents. Murray has triumphed during a golden era of tennis graced by the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Murray’s ascent to the top has not without controversies. More than a few were heard to mutter “there goes his knighthood” when the tennis player expressed support for Scottish independence hours before the 2014 vote. How refreshing that such cynicism has proved misplaced in today’s New Year’s Honours List. In the past, there was an impression that he is admired rather than adored by the British sporting public. He was the surly Scot who did not have the clean cut appeal of Tim Henman.
But his heroics at the All England Club plus his role in bringing the Davis Cup back to Britain has put paid to that. His record of three victories in the vote for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year is testament to his popularity. Murray has been truly accepted as a Scottish and British sporting hero. As such, he has lit up our lives during what has, at times, been a traumatic 12 months.
Sport can sometimes be dismissed as escapism, but talents like Murray are a source of inspiration and enormous pride. Arise, Sir Andy Murray.