London 2012 Olympics: Andy Murray distances himself from row over patriotism
OLYMPIC gold medallist Andy Murray said he hoped his victory for Team GB in the final of the men’s tennis tournament at London 2012 would encourage young Scots to pick up a racquet.
Murray said his commanding defeat of Roger Federer should spur authorities to improve facilities across the country so that new generations of tennis hopefuls can emulate his feat.
However, the 25-year-old Scot sought to distance himself from those looking to hijack his win for political purposes, claiming he is refusing to become “wrapped up” in the debate sparked by his celebrations at Wimbledon.
Speaking the morning after his resounding success on centre court, Murray hailed the “unbelievable” support he received from fans during the “biggest win” of his career to date, and said he was inspired to go for gold by the success of his colleagues in Team GB.
In a light-hearted moment yesterday, Murray and his girlfriend, Kim Sears, posted a picture of his two dogs wearing the gold medal, along with the silver he claimed in the mixed doubles final with Laura Robson.
The photograph of his Border terriers, Maggie May and Rusty, was taken as Murray celebrated with family and friends at his Surrey home, but already, his thoughts are turning to the next tournament.
Britain’s No 1 left for Toronto yesterday as part of his preparations for the US Open in three weeks’ time. Having reached four Grand Slams so far, he is optimistic that his experiences at London 2012 will allow him to go that one step further.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: “The support through the whole event was unbelievable, a real feeling of togetherness which I hadn’t experienced before, and I hope more kids start playing tennis and we can get more tennis courts around the country and make it easier for kids for play.
“That’s really what the plan is. You get more kids playing, you get more chance of having future success.”
Murray’s mother, Judy, hailed his “remarkable performance” as “incredible” and echoed her son’s sentiments about the match acting as a springboard to improve tennis provision in Scotland, pointing out that the existing sporting infrastructure was not up to scratch.
She said: “The real effect of Andy’s success must be to promote tennis. It is vital that we open up every possible court that we have. Clubs must open up courts to non-members, particularly children. It is crucial too that schools open up courts during the holidays.
“We have this great interest at the moment, an Olympic champion and so much good happening in tennis with the girls, that we have capitalise on the moment.”
As he digested his win on Sunday, Murray said the result has helped him get over his agonising defeat to Federer at Wimbledon last month, and he now has his sights firmly set on the US Open.
“I’ve felt close to Grand Slams before, and obviously this is the biggest title of my career,” he said. “I’ve got the US Open in three weeks’ time, so I’ll have to get myself rested.
“I’m leaving for Toronto later today, there’s a tournament starts there. I play my first match on Wednesday. I’ve got three weeks to get myself ready for the US Open, and I hope that can be the first one.
“The Wimbledon final was four weeks ago to the day yesterday – it’s definitely easier coming out the winner. The Wimbledon final was really tough, I was really emotional after. It took me quite a few days to get over it but this makes up for it.”
Murray said wider success among British athletes helped to spur him on during Sunday’s game, explaining: “I think it’s just being part of the Olympics, the success of the other athletes and watching them, being inspired by that and wanting to try and be part of the medal tally and try and contribute to the team as much as I could.
He also sought to distance himself from the political debate which raged on social networking sites after he sang part of the national anthem and draped a Union flag over his shoulders following his win.
“In tennis I played my first team competition when I was ten. In tennis we represent Great Britain and I have done it now for 15 years, through every single age group,” he explained.
“I’ve always loved the team competitions. I’ve always been proud of representing my country, but obviously still remember my roots.
“I love Scotland, I have all of my family there and I love going back and seeing everybody, but I don’t get wrapped up in all of that stuff any more. I just enjoy competing for my country and I hope I did a good job of that yesterday.”
Meanwhile, Murray’s relatives in his hometown were among those to speak of their pride yesterday after the Royal Mail painted a post box in Dunblane High Street gold in recognition of his achievement.
Locals turned out to see the bright new monument to the town’s most famous son, and said it would inspire younger generations.
Murray’s uncle, Niall Erskine, who runs an optometrist’s business just yards away from the newly painted box, said: “It’s the best place for the post box – I can walk past it every day for the rest of my life. I love it.
“We had the most amazing day thanks to Andy. We thought he had the doubles too, but it was a huge effort. We’ve had some special moments. Two medals and an Olympic champion in the family, it’s surreal.”
Esther Duke, 47, brought her two daughters Poppy, ten, and Ruby, seven, from their Dunblane home to witness the unveiling of the post box.
She said: “We were terribly excited – it’s wonderful. Andy deserves this as he’s a wonderful inspiration to the children. This is something people will be able to look at and remember for years.”
The Royal Mail also issued a stamp in Murray’s honour yesterday, but Dunblane locals were unable to buy it because it was a public holiday.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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