Andy Murray showing his gold medal, London 2012

I don’t remember much from the final game to be honest. Playing in front of a home crowd is not something that tennis players get to do often, let alone playing at a home Olympics. What I do remember though, as soon as I had hit the ace to win the match I felt this incredible sense of pride like I had never experienced before.
It had been a difficult couple of weeks after losing the Wimbledon final, and finally I felt like I could hold my head high again.

It was a different feeling to any tournament I had won before. After the disappointment I had suffered on Centre Court at Wimbledon against Roger Federer, it was an incredible feeling to be able to turn the tables and win through. After losing that Wimbledon final, I began to accept that I might never win on the big stage, which sounds pretty negative but it actually helped me mentally.

I remember playing in the Olympic tournament with a completely different mindset. Particularly before the final, I remember being relaxed. To this day it’s one of the best performances of my career and the pride of winning such a prestigious event in front of a home crowd is something I will never forget.

I remember being unbelievably excited. I should have been shattered after playing both the singles and the mixed doubles finals but I wasn’t. After my match I had a lot of media to do, but after that we all went back to the Athletes’ Village to celebrate. The mood, particularly around Team GB, was incredibly positive. It was the day after Super Saturday [when Great Britain won three athletics gold medals] and everyone was incredibly excited, there was a lot of celebrating going on, it was a lot of fun.

It’s still an incredibly special feeling. It’s different to the Grand Slams, we have opportunities every year to win those; the opportunity to win gold only comes around every four years, so I think among the players it’s a pretty special occasion.

It’s definitely up there as being one of, if not my favourite victory of my career. Wimbledon was incredible in 2013, but winning a gold at a home Olympics in front of one of the loudest crowds I’ve ever played in front of is something I will never do again and I’ll never forget it.

I remember most walking out onto Centre Court on the day of the final. The noise was deafening, I’ve walked out onto Centre Court a lot, and I have never experienced an atmosphere like that. The national pride that was around Great Britain during the Olympics was incredible and I think it’s something that a lot of people, not just the athletes, will remember for a long time.

Lining up next to my brother Jamie to play doubles for Great Britain will always stick with me. It’s always a huge honour to play for my country but there’s something special about representing your country alongside your brother; we had done it before in Beijing but being at Wimbledon in that atmosphere, it was just a bit special.

My medal didn’t really change much for me to be honest. I’ve lived in the public eye for a long time so although the media attention after I won the gold medal was intense, it eventually died down. What winning did give me though was a lot of confidence heading out to America for the US Open. I went on to win the final and capture my first Grand Slam title.

I hope people don’t view me differently because of it, I’d like to think that people will always just see me as the hard-working player I have always strived to be, whatever my results on the court.

I was awarded an OBE [Queen’s honour] in December 2012 after I had won both the gold and the US Open. I was fortunate enough to be presented with my OBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace. He’s a really nice person and he enjoys his sport, and plays a bit of tennis. It was a great day and it was an incredibly humbling experience to be recognised.

The Olympics is the perfect place for upsets, you see a lot of personal bests and a lot of records broken. My best advice to other players would be to give everything you can and see what happens on the day. Being at the start line or the opening match in an Olympic Games is different to anything you’ll ever experience, so make sure you give it your all and try and enjoy it.

Source: ITF Olympic book

Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray

From Andy Murray’s autobiography, Seventy-Seven

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 wee 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 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 gor 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 the things that happened to me in 2012, winning the gold medal was the proudest moment.

There had been four weeks to the day between one of the hardest moments of my life and one of the most fulfilling. Roger was involved in both of them and he made them special because he’s arguably the greatest of all time.

I was nervous before the final of the Olympics but I don’t remember feeling the same fear as before at Wimbledon. Maybe when I was playing on Centre Court before I felt I had to behave myself, because everyone was watching me and maybe I felt a bit self-conscious. People weren’t necessarily waiting for me to slip up but if I did, somebody would have something to say about it and everyone would have an opinion on what I had or hadn’t done. But after Wimbledon, people accepted my flaws – and I have loads of them. People seemed to see me for what I am and how I express myself, not judge me on what I should or shoukdn’t do.

I remember shaking my head when I was up there on the podium, ready to receive the medal. All of the guys in my team were there and the podiums were set up so that I was facing them. Seeing them all smiling, and everyone looking so proud, amde me feel wonderful. Yes, I was proud of myself, but when I saw everyone smiling and everyone singing the national anthem, I got a real sense of togetherness.
Maybe we don’t show enough of that in our country, and maybe the result is that sometimes we don’t get a sense that everyone can pull together for the same cause. When I saw Sir Chris Hoy holding the flag at the opening ceremony and he was completely blubbing the whole way around, I realised that you don’t get that in other competitions and that the London Olympics was really specials.

Check out the whole match here.

Andy Murray, London Olympics

From Andy Murray’s autobiography, Seventy-Seven

Beijing was one of the best experiences I’d ever had as an athlete. To be involved and part of the team, to go to the opening ceremony, and to speak to many gifted, wonderful sports people – I absolutely loved it. But then I lost in the first round to Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan.

When I weighed myself the night after my loss, I discovered I’d lost five kilos since leaving Cincinnati a week before. I was completely dehydrated. I had not been a professional in my approach because I was so excited at being part of the Olympics. I knew that when London came around my attitude had to be different. I was never going to make the Beijing mistake again. I had forgotten I was there to win matches for the country, because I was enjoying the experience so much.

I didn’t think that going to the opening ceremony in Beijing would affect me. It was only in hindsight that I realised I had used tremendous amounts of energy, speaking to loads of people and enjoying the whole occasion. For some participants that is what the Olympics should be about, but I know how disappointed I was to lose so early because I had a chance to do well for the country and I blew it.

I would have loved to have gone to the London 2012 opening ceremony – it turned out to be the most spectacular event – but it was the wrong thing to do from a professional perspective. I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
However, I was among the fortunate people nominated to carry the flame on its journey across the nation. That was a tremendous privilege. OK, I was only able to carry it inside the confines of the All England Club, but there were memebers and players in attendance – I remember Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych cutting short their practice sessions to come and watch me receive the flame.

My first match against Stanislas Wawrinka was a really tough one. I had been practicing with him so often beforehand .. and killing him actually! In those ten days, I think I had won every practice set and I had just felt great generally.[…]

I watched as many of the other sports as I could when I wasn’t playing, and I wanted to try to be a part of that success. When I lose at the Wimbledon Championships, there isn’t usually anyone else left for British fans to support; if I’d have lost at the Olympics, there was still Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Chris Hoy. If I had lost, I doubt whether people would have spent much time talking about it, because there were so many other exciting things going on elsewhere to concentrate on.

The night before playing in the final, I watched Ennis, Farah and Greg Rutherford all win gold in Olympic Stadium. The atmosphere was outrageous, it was crackling. The country was alive with optimism, there was momentum and everyone was so positive, from the spectators to the media.
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, 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 Nicolas Almagro 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 lessage 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 mnight matches at the US Open had the best atmosphere, but they weren’t even closeto 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.

Read part one here.

Basketball Arena

The 12,000-capacity Basketball Arena is the third-largest venue in the Olympic Park. For the Paralympics, the Basketball Arena has been transformed to host the Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby events before being taken down, with parts expected to be reused or relocated elsewhere in the UK.

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

BP Pavilion

Olympic Park

The next Andy Murray?

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Enjoying the Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Paralympic Village

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Water Polo Arena

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Aquatics Centre

Designed by Iraq-born architect Zaha Hadid, the Aquatics Centre was the last structure to be completed before the Games began.
After the Games, the two temporary wings will be removed while the Centre will be transformed into a leisure facility for local and elite swimmers, complete with creche, family-friendly changing facilities, a cafe and a new public plaza.

Olympic Park

Stratford Gate

The main Olympic Park entrance:

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Bandstand

Enjoying a bit of music to put an end to this fantastic day at the Paralympics.

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

I spent a few days in London last week and I was thrilled to have tickets for the wheelchair tennis event on Friday and to take part to the Paralympics as a spectator.

Victoria Gate

On my way to the Olympic Park:

IMG_9173

IMG_9175

IMG_9182

IMG_9185

A swift and hassle-free passage through security and here I am.

Olympic Stadium

The 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium played host to the Olympic and the Paralympic Athletics as well as all the opening and closing ceremonies.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium and the Orbit

London 2012 Megastore

London 2012 Megastore

McDonalds

World’s largest McDonalds:

McDonalds

Olympic Park musicians

Olympic Park

Following Dutch fans on my way to Eton Manor for the women’s singles finale between Esther Vergeer and Aniek Van Koot

Olympic Park

RUN

RUN

Panasonic 3D Theatre

There were lots of free activities provided by Paralympic sponsors, like the Panasonic Theatre, Samsung booth, Coca Cola Beatbox… but I was there to watch some sports and I’m not a huge fan of lines, so I can’t report on them.

Panasonic 3D Theatre

Coca Cola Beatbox

Coca Cola Beatbox

Park Live

British Airways have sponsored a giant screen perched in the middle of the River Lea. Park Live is the only place to catch up on sport if you’re not inside a venue.

BT Park Live

Mascot House

Mascot House

The Olympic Park is really big, from one end to the other it’s about two kilometres. It took me more than 20 minutes from the Olympic Stadium to Eaton Manor, at the northern end of the park.
For people having trouble getting around, there were stacks of Games Mobility Vehicles parked up, with Games Makers ready to spring into action.

Olympic Park

Basketball Arena

Basketball Arena

Velodrome

Velodrome

Velodrome

Olympic Park

And finally, Eton Manor, where I spent most of the aftenoon watching the women’s singles final and the women’s doubles bronze medal match.

Eton Manor

Eton Manor

Eton Manor

Esther Vergeer vs Aniek Van Koot

Dutch fans

Esther Vergeer

Enjoy more pics and videos of the final between Esther Vergeer and Aniek Van Koot here.

Timed to coincide with the end of the Paralympics, the Greater London Authority has launched The Gifts of the Games, a poster campign and website highlighting some of the benefits that 2012 has brought to London.

The ads will be running on the tube network and the DLR as well as in the Metro newspaper for the next six weeks.

Read More