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Andy Murray wins at Wimbledon

Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon has brought great joy to him and his family, to the town of Dunblane and to the nation. The long wait for another British men’s champion is over. It was a fiercely contested match, in 40C heat, between two men who know each other well. Novak Djokovic is just 7 days older than Andy and both have committed their lives to becoming tennis champions. Novak left Serbia at the age of 12 to go to Germany to learn his skills. Andy left Dunblane when he was 15 to train in Spain.

Andy has experienced great sadness as well as triumph. He was a pupil at Dunblane Primary School when a local man shot 17 people. Andy’s class was due to be the next in the gym where the shooting took place. This year Andy’s best friend, and former doubles partner, Ross Hutchins, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As Wimbledon began Andy said, “Tennis obviously means a lot to me, but at the end of the day my tennis career is going to be, I hope, seven or eight years more, but there’s a lot more to life than just playing tennis.” Ross was at the Centre Court to see Andy win the title.

Andy has achieved success through hours of great physical and mental effort. He has steadily improved through dedication and patience in the face of disappointments. He said, “I think I persevered, that’s really been it, the story of my career probably. I had a lot of tough losses, but the one thing I say is I think every year I always improved a little bit, every year my ranking was going in the right direction.”

Andy exemplifies very important qualities and insights. The triumphs of life are very brief and transitory. We learn far more through the hard things, such as disappointments, setbacks and tragic events. A Christian song affirms this, “I walked a mile with pleasure, she chatted all the way, but I was none the wiser for all she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow, not a word said she, but O the things I learned that day when sorrow walked with me.” Sad experiences remind us of our mortality and point us to the ultimate realities of eternity. The apostle Paul wrote, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.”

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Reflections on Andy Murray at Wimbledon

Over the past two weeks many people in Britain have been following the progress of Andy Murray at Wimbledon. Hopes were high that this year he would win the tournament, but Roger Federer narrowly beat him in the final. A player from Britain has not won the Wimbledon men’s championship since 1936. Immediately after the match Andy spoke emotionally about his appreciation of all the support he has received from his family, coach and team, and the crowd on the Centre Court. He knew that many people were willing him to win.

Our society puts great emphasis on success. We praise people who get to the top, but put little value on coming second. Television interviewers sometimes give the impression that winning a silver medal is a failure! Andy Murray played really well and lost to a man who is one of the greatest ever tennis players. There is no disgrace in that. Indeed the rise of Andy Murray to sporting excellence is cause for great thankfulness.

On 13 March 1996 Andy was a pupil at Dunblane Primary School when Thomas Hamilton entered the school armed with 4 handguns. He shot and killed 16 children, aged 5 and 6, and their teacher, Gwen Mayor, who was killed trying to protect the children in her care. Hamilton then committed suicide. Andy remembers taking cover in another classroom. He attended a youth group run by Thomas Hamilton and his mother gave him lifts in her car. Andy could so easily have died that day but, in the providence of God, he survived and has gone on to become one of the world’s best tennis players. Every year he is getting better and one day he may well be the Wimbledon Men’s Champion.

The determination of great athletes is a challenge to us all. They are single-minded in their determination to succeed and get to the top, even though their careers last just a few years. Do you have a goal in your life? There are more important things than success. The most important thing is the kind of people we are, rather than great achievements. The Apostle Paul was a man of great energy and determination. As a Christian he had one great goal in life which was to please God. He knew that one day, like us all, he would appear before God and nothing was more important than receiving God’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”