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As a British sports fan, there is only one topic I can write about this week. Yesterday, Andy Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years! The last win was so long ago that the players were wearing long trousers!

I haven’t seen the final yet, but apparently, it was a real nail-biter. Andy Murray lost three or four championship points before he finally won it.

In Britain, we tend to have a lot of sporting heroes who are good, but not quite the best. As you may know, Murray was beaten in the Wimbledon final last year, and a lot of people thought that he just didn’t have the ability to actually win. Later that year, though, he finally won his first Grand Slam title as well as a gold medal at the London Olympics, so people began to think that having a British Wimbledon champion might be a real possibility.

Of course, if he had lost, he would have been “Scottish,” but as he won, we are all stressing the fact that he is “British.”

I have a huge amount of respect for Murray because he has been given such a hard time by the British media over the last few years. A lot of people don’t like him because he is not “funny” or “friendly” in interviews, and some of the newspapers treated him like “another British loser” whenever he lost a match. It must have taken incredible mental strength and belief in his own ability for him to overcome all of that.

Anyway, I thought the topic of “sporting heroes” would be a fitting one this week, so please let me know who your heroes are and why you admire them.

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27 Comments

  1. John Spiri on Monday July 8th, 2013 at 04:09 PM

    I used to like Andre Agassi, because he was a great tennis player and seemed like a free spirit. I think the press liked him too. Pete Sampras, another American tennis star, was probably treated like Andy Murray. The press didn’t like him because he was considered uptight and too serious. A few years ago I saw Agassi play Sampras in a charity tennis match for retired players. Players joked a lot during the match, but Sampras and Agassi seemed to get annoyed with each other. I thought Agassi said some unnecessarily rude things. Sampras handled the situation with grace. I was much more impressed with Sampras than Agassi. I realized we don’t really know these people who are stars. Liking one player over another is probably natural, but also, in my opinion, a little silly. And why should I like a tennis player just because he or she is American? It’s a kind of tribalism.



  2. taco on Monday July 8th, 2013 at 08:02 PM

    Hello,
    I didn’t know Andy Murray won Wimbledon! Though I watched the first set and it was a close game, I didn’t follow the rest of game. When I first read your commend, I thought “マレー、良かったね~!” As you said, I know that Murray had a hard time over the last few years. He is the only one in the U.K. to play as one of the top ranked players while he must have so much pressure.
    > Of course, if he had lost, he would have been “Scottish,” but as he won, we are all stressing the fact that he is “British.”
    I know what you mean. Hahaha…
    I believe he used to wear Fred Perry in Wimbledon, but he didn’t. He was cool in Fred Perry…

    My sporting hero is Miura Kazuyoshi. He was bashed by media and even soccer fans till some years ago, but now everyone admits his great achievement. He is now 46years old and still a professional soccer player. He told that the key to continue to be a soccer player was “passion.” That is an amazing thing.

    See you,
    taco



  3. Biwa on Monday July 8th, 2013 at 09:38 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I was pleasantly surprised to see this week’s topic, because I was just talking with my family about Murray’s victory this morning. By the way, I was wondering how マリー would be spelled in English, so it was nice to know it. 🙂

    My favorite sporting hero (actually a heroine!) is Yoshie Takeshita who is one of the greatest setters in the national volleyball team. She is only 160cm tall, but she jumps so high that she sometimes even blocks some spikes from really tall attackers. And what’s so great about her is that she seems to be able to see 360 degrees around herself, and tosses the best ball for the attacker from wherever she is. As you know, the setter is the control (command?) tower in every team, and they use strategy to win the game. I think Takeshita is really good at grasping the situation in a flash and deciding what to do next. I was so glad when they won the bronze medal in the London Olympics. She’s 35 now, but I hope I can see her playing as long as possible.



  4. Akira on Tuesday July 9th, 2013 at 06:48 AM

    Hi,
    I went to Wimbledon to see Japanese players’ matches a few weeks ago. I don’t watch and play tennis at all actually and I didn’t know even the rule. However the matches were quite exciting and stunning.
    My hero is Robbie Keane, Irish footballer. I was really really impressed when I watched his goal and goal performance in 2002 world cup. His cool performance took my breath away.



  5. Biwa on Tuesday July 9th, 2013 at 09:50 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I just googled the birth months of the players you all mentioned. Agassi was born in April, Kazu in February, Robbie Keane in July and Takeshita in March. I know that school year begins in September in the US and UK, but I’m not sure about the cut off dates for tennis or football. However, in Japan, it’s April 2nd, so I guess both Kazu and Takeshita had to compete with bigger peers when they started playing. That’s quite interesting, isn’t it?

    Hi David,

    Thank you for introducing “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I also found an example for “flying colors” in “Blink”: Professional food tasters can pass the triangle test for Pepsi and Coke with flying colors.



  6. YU on Tuesday July 9th, 2013 at 05:41 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been thinking about who my sporting heroes are, but I can’t think of anyone.

    They are not my heroes, but I like Kimiko Date Krumm and Hideo Nomo.

    Kimiko Date is the same age as me and her husband is German, so I feel close to her for some reason.
    As you know, she was a very good tennis player, she has even been on the top 10(her best was No.4) in the WTA ranking, but she announced her retirement when she was still 25 or 26. It shocked to me(and maybe to many tennis fans) very much at that time, but she suddenly made a come back about 5 years ago and she even won and advanced to the third round in the Wimbledon championship this year. I really wonder how she could return to active duty after an absence of almost 13 years! Every time I see her small, but very shaped body, I hate myself…

    As for Hideo Nomo, even now I get goose bumps when I remember the days Nomo piling up a dozen strikeouts against MLB’s powerful hitters. Ichiro and Matsui are very good players too, but for me, Nomo is special. After him, a number of NPB players went to the US to contract with MLB teams, but no doubt he was a pioneer of Japanese major leaguers today. I like his simple and honest personality, too.



  7. Anne on Tuesday July 9th, 2013 at 09:31 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I like watching tennis matches and used to play tennis myself. I was following the result of the Wimbledon as I usually do when there is a tennis match. Sorry to say, I was not rooting for Andy Murray,tough…

    When I was young, Swede Bjorn Borg was my hero as a tennis player. John McEnroe was another top player back in those days, but their playing styles and personalities were completely different. I liked Bjorn Borg’s calm atmosphere. Also, I was fascinated with his two handed backhand.

    Hi YU,

    What a coincidence! I was thinking of naming both of them,too!

    While she was away from tennis, Kimiko Date-Krumm must have experienced lots of things. She is now in her 40s. I really admire her guts and her attitude towards life. She lives her life vigorously,right?

    >Ichiro and Matsui are very good players too, but for me, Nomo is special.—I couldn’t agree with you more. He opened the door to NLB. I like him because despite his successes, he stays humble.



  8. Anne on Tuesday July 9th, 2013 at 09:32 PM

    it’s me again.
    “the door to NLB” should be “the door to MLB.”



  9. Kattie on Tuesday July 9th, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Hi everyone,

    The nearest person to a sporting hero, for me, would have to be Steve Ovett. Ovett won the gold medal for the 800 metres at the 1980 Olympics, he also held the world record for the 1500 metres. There was an ongoing battle between him and Seb Coe (another UK middle distance runner)which made the races all the more exciting but I always found him a lot more likeable than Coe, so I was always rooting for him! At school, I used to run the 800m and had the school record for it(!) – I was lazy and didn’t train hard and my enthusiasm soon waned as I got older and interested in other things but I still really like watching the 800m and 1500m races at the Olympics because I find it easier to relate to them.

    Other people who I particularly remember from my childhood are Tracy Austin (actually I think she was the first person to do the two-handed backhand in major tournaments), Ilie Nastase (he was an exciting and charismatic tennis player, his nickname was ‘Nasty’ because of his on-court antics) and finally Nadia Comaneci (the Romanian Gymnast)-I remember Comaneci because there was a full size poster of her plastered on the wall of our school gym!

    I haven’t been able to write on the blog recently because I have been so busy with short-term guests and working out various itineraries and lesson plans! I can’t remember who wrote about the moving Mummy at Manchester Museum but I was at the museum a few months ago and saw the mummies but no-one mentioned this – I think I’ll have to go back again soon and check it out!

    Hi Akira,
    >I went to Wimbledon to see Japanese players’ matches a few weeks ago
    How exciting! Tom loves Wimbledon and really wanted to go for his (40th!) birthday – he wanted to see the Men’s Quarter Finals so I applied for tickets but I couldn’t get them without paying a crazy price. Hope to see you soon.



  10. Fumie on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 07:40 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I’m not a big fan of any sport. I usually follow just news of sport games. Though, there are many athletes who overcame the difficulties and achieved certain goals. When I heard stories of who had overcame the difficulties and achieved certain goals, I always admire them. One of those people is Kimiko Date-Krumm. (YU and Anne already wrote about her well.)She is amazing! Not only she reached fourth in world female tennis ranking, she came back from 12 years withdraw from pro tennis player. And she achieved marvelous results as a kind of older player. I wondered what makes her so strong? Of course, she practiced a lot but I guess she is mentally strong. What she achieved and how she lives is inspiring me a lot and make me feel we can still do well though we get older.
    I tried to write some other athletes but sport isn’t my forte and I don’t know much about any sport players.

    Hi Kattie,

    >At school, I used to run the 800m and had the school record for it(!)
    You are so sporty! I’m clumsy at any sports and I am a slow runner. So I used to hate sports day!



  11. Biwa on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Hi everyone,

    >When I heard stories of who had overcame the difficulties and achieved certain goals, I always admire them.

    Me, too!
    Talking about “pioneer” players, I always remember Yuta Tabuse who is the first Japanese to play in the NBA(National Basketball Association). He has played in several teams including Phoenix Suns during his 5-year challenge in the US. He has a very broad range of vision, and his moves and passes are really alert. Considering that he is only 175cm tall where the average height of NBA players is more than 200cm, I think he did a really good job. What’s more, his challenging spirit encouraged young Japanese players a lot. I hope we have more NBA players in the near future.

    Hi Kattie,

    Nice to hear from you again. I guess you’re enjoying the summer sun, but it’s crazily hot and sticky here. The highest is around 35°c and what’s worse, it’s still hot in the evening, too. I need cool and dry air!

    I didn’t know any of the athletes you mentioned except Comaneci, so I googled some. Ilie Nastase’s portrait made me laugh because he looks more like a villain in a gang movie than a tennis player!(Excuse me!) His face makes me want to know how he actually used to play!

    By the way, there is a 17-year-old sprinter named Yoshihide Kiryu, and he’s quite good at 100m. Lots of people (including me!) expect him to become faster and win a ticket to the next Olympics.



  12. Biwa on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    Just forgot to mention this. David’s entry reminded me of the referendum which Scotland is going to have concerning it’s independence. I wonder what people in other parts of the UK think.



  13. Shiori on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 02:35 PM

    I think Hideki Matsui is Japanese hero. From when he was child, he was very tall. He also had power. When he was high school student, he played like professional player. From then, he was very famous. The reason I like him, he is a hard worker. Even though he has great ability, he continued big effort.



  14. Nao on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 02:39 PM

    My sporting hero is Ichiro.Maybe he is respected by most Japanese. He leaves much records and he does unfathomable efforts. I want to try hard like him.



  15. Yama on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 02:50 PM

    I think my sporting hero is Nakamura shunsuke. I longed to play soccer like him. I get excited with his beautiful passes and shots. I thought everybody gets excited too. He was born in Kanagawa. His nickname is “Mr.Lefite.” We called him “the heinous leftie.” He is famous in Europe . He has been playing in Europe for 8 years.



  16. David on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 03:03 PM

    Hi Shiori, Nao, and Yama. Nice to have you with us.

    Hi everyone,

    Re John’s comment, I found an interesting article today that supports his point of view.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/allanmassie/100069917/andy-murray-is-a-scottish-hero-and-a-british-one-its-a-petty-sort-of-nationalism-that-cant-accept-both/



  17. YU on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 03:12 PM

    Hi Kattie,

    Nice to hear from you again!

    > I can’t remember who wrote about the moving Mummy at Manchester Museum but I was at the museum a few months ago and saw the mummies but no-one mentioned this – I think I’ll have to go back again soon and check it out!

    That was me.
    I hope they didn’t fix it in the showcase!

    Hi Anne,

    I remember John McEnroe. He used to lose his temper easily and snap at the umpire.
    By the way, do you remember Michael Chang?
    I think he had many fans in Japan because he was American of Taiwanese ancestry and he was relatively short for a tennis player. Japanese people tend to like smaller athletes, don’t we?!
    My brother was always amusing himself with playing the tennis video game. Especially, he liked Chang, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg in the game. あ~、懐かしいですね!



  18. Fumie on Wednesday July 10th, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I was in a hurry this morning and sent a comment without checking and now I noticed that it’s terrible. Please ignore my first comment. Can I write it again? I thnik there are still some mistakes, though. I’m so sorry.
    (訂正版)
    I’m not a big fan of any sport. I usually follow just news of sport games. When I heard stories of athletes who had overcame the difficulties and achieved certain goals, I always admire them. One of those people is Kimiko Date-Krumm. (YU and Anne already wrote about her well.)She is amazing! Not only she reached fourth in world female tennis ranking, after she came back from 12 years withdraw from WTA, but she achieved marvelous results as a kind of older player. I wondered what makes her so strong? Of course, she practiced a lot but I guess she is mentally so strong. What she achieved and how she lives is inspiring me a lot and makes me feel we can still do well when we get older.
    I tried to write some other athletes but sport isn’t my forte and I don’t know much about any sport players.

    I just remembered the one who I admire. Her name is Yumi kashiki. You may know her as she introduced Curvy Dance. Can you believe that she is now 50 years old? Her body is so beautiful and feminine. Wiki says her waist size is 56cm. She also looks young! Don’t you think so? I used to do Curvy Dance for about a month but I’m lazy and didn’t continuing it. I think if we do Curvy Dance regularly and properly (of course, we shold eat moderately), our bodies will become like hers.

    Hi Shiori, nao and Yama,

    Nice to have you with us and thank you for nice stories!



  19. Anne on Thursday July 11th, 2013 at 05:20 AM

    Hi YU,

    >do you remember Michael Chang?—Yes, I do. I remember all the players you mentioned:) ホント、懐かしい。I’m not sure Japanese people like smaller athletes or not, but Chan was great.

    Hi Kattie,
    Nice to hear from you again. As other members mentioned, it’s scorching hot in Japan. How is the weather in the UK?

    Hi Shiori, Nao, and Yama,

    Nice to have you with us.
    Are you students from David’s class?

    Hi David,
    Thank you for letting us know the interesting article. I came across several words I looked up in a dictionary. It was good for me. I especially found this part interesting:

    “What one loved was not only his skill but the character he displayed, and if the Centre Court has come to adore him, I can only say “and about time too”.”

    >correction:
    for Andy Murray,tough…—-for Andy Murray, though…



  20. Biwa on Thursday July 11th, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Hi Anne,

    >I can only say “and about time too.”

    I read the article, too, but I’m not sure what the author exactly wanted to say here. Could you help me? Would it mean like “ただ言えることは、そろそろ(勝つ)いい頃合いだった、ということだ”?

    Hi everyone,

    Regarding the article, I just think that it’s pretty natural that people support athletes from their own country. I also think that the way the media reports things has lots to do with creating this so-called “nationalism” or “tribalism”.
    They spend more time on reporting things about the players or teams of their own country, and it’s much easier for people to relate to and feel like supporting the players.

    Actually, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing, but it’s really disgusting if people get too excited and start talking as if the victory was gained by their own effort! The efforts were made by the players, and I don’t think the players ever compete for their nations or people.

    I agree with one of the commenters who said this:

    >He is not a Hero. A Hero is someone who is essentially altruistic, and makes a huge sacrifice for – primarily – kith and kin, but also by exension for their nation.
    I doubt that Mr Murray identifies himsels as a Scot, or a Briton, or anything much other than himself. He is above all self-centred – the antithesis of a Hero.

    However, I feel this argument has a deeper origin(history?) than it seems, and that’s why I got interested in the poll for Scotland’s independence.



  21. Anne on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 07:50 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    >ただ言えることは、そろそろ(勝つ)いい頃合いだった、ということだ”?
    I understood the same way as you did. I think he desreves to win.

    I found the following comment in the article interesting:

    >” have never understood all this sports `nationalism’. The idea of sports is the game itself. There can only be one result: was it a good game? Yes or no. Even who wins is secondary.

    Mr Murray deserves his win and I wish him all the best. He played a good game. We can all take pleasure in such quality.”

    I think it’s natural for you to root for athletes in your own country, however, the point is the game itself.

    By the way, the article is very poetic and sounds like a novel. No Wonder if you consider him the writer.



  22. Biwa on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 08:28 AM

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your reply.
    I’m glad my understanding was the same as yours. 🙂

    >No Wonder if you consider him the writer.

    Sorry if I’m wrong, but maybe you wanted to say “No wonder you consider him as a writer”?
    (彼を作家だと思ったのも道理だ・無理はない)

    I think his writing is very poetic, too! His profile which is on the top of the article says that he has written about Byron’s travel and other literary columns. Anyway, I just used the word “author” because all the entries in this blog says “Author: David”. I guess “author” can be used not just for 作者・作家 but also in the same way as “writer・執筆者”.



  23. Anne on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 09:16 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    >Sorry if I’m wrong, but maybe you wanted to say “No wonder you consider him as a writer”?
    — Thank you for your help. Actually, I wanted to say, “彼が作家であることを考慮に入れれば無理はない。”

    I struggled how to express:) Hmm.. phrases like “consider, think, and take into consideration” came to mind, but I was not sure how to combine or write each phrase
    So, does this sentence make sense to express what I want to say?
    “No wonder if you take into consideration the fact that he is a writer.” Also, I just wanted to use the expression “No wonder” haha!

    As you mentioned, “author” implies various types of writers. I thought this author’s sentences are very poetic. Writing styles differ depending on each author,right?



  24. YU on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Hi David, Biwa and Anne,

    I read the article, too.
    To be honest, I don’t really have confidence if I understand the contents properly!

    > In any sport, it is also natural that we should have heroes who are not of our nationality,

    I agree with him on this point.
    For many kids soccer fans in the world today, Messi is their hero, a soccer player they admire.

    However, I agree with Biwa on the following sentences, too.

    > I just think that it’s pretty natural that people support athletes from their own country. I also think that the way the media reports things has lots to do with creating this so-called “nationalism” or “tribalism”.
    They spend more time on reporting things about the players or teams of their own country, and it’s much easier for people to relate to and feel like supporting the players.

    > Actually, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing,

    In fact, I often hear that many people from South Korea never want their national soccer team to lose against Japan, but at least I’ve never had such a fiery feeling when watching the games between the both countries. I just support Japan, no matter what country Japan faces. There’s any special reason for it, it’s just because I spent most of my lifetime in Japan till today and I feel more closer to Japan than to any other countries, that’s it. I’m not a racist.

    As Biwa mentioned, supporting the players from their own countries is natural and I feel it is a bit ridiculous that you should easily link it with “nationalism”.
    It might just because I’m not be very sensitive to racial issues in one nation like ones in the UK, though….

    Hi Anne,

    > however, the point is the game itself.

    I think so, too.
    I would enjoy, be moved by sports matches only if players played well in the games, even if both players were not from my country.



  25. YU on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    correction :
    >It might just because I’m not be very sensitive to racial issues…

    ……..I’m not very sensitive to….

    Hi Anne,

    How about this?

    No wonder you think so given the fact that he is a writer.



  26. Biwa on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 02:02 PM

    Hi Anne,

    >Actually, I wanted to say, “彼が作家であることを考慮に入れれば無理はない。”

    I see!
    If so, I think you need to put “何が(無理はないのか) after “No wonder.” So I guess you wanted to say “彼が作家であることを考慮に入れれば「彼の文章が詩的なのも」無理はない。)

    How about this?
    “No wonder his writing sounds poetic, given the fact that he is a writer of literary books and columns, too.”

    I think YU’s sentence is fine, but if the word “writer” has a very broad meaning, I guess you need to add some more words to clarify 「文学的な本を書く人」.



  27. Biwa on Friday July 12th, 2013 at 02:18 PM

    Hi YU,

    >I feel it is a bit ridiculous that you should easily link it with “nationalism”.

    Yes, I really think so. However, as you said about how American people reacted after the terrorists in Boston were arrested, I think it’s really easy to create “nationalism”- in a weird sense- by facing the same enemy/opponent. It’s really scary to imagine people being mind-controled by the media or the country, isn’t it!



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