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Dear Lleyton and Sam, we’ve all crashed and burned before…

16 Jan


Poor Lleyton Hewitt. There’s no doubt Lleyton is one of the best Australian tennis players of all time and he’s done enough in his career to rest up and enjoy the good life. But he isn’t giving up yet. Like Andre Agassi before him, Lleyton Hewitt senses that he’s not done yet and flashes of brilliance such as winning the Kooyong Classic just days ago prove that. So how is it that he’s out of the Australian Open in the first round?

My husband cycled with the Australian cycling team for years and he always says, “Competing is ten percent physical and 90 per cent mental.” As Samantha Stosur and athletes before her know all too well, it doesn’t matter how fit you are if your confidence is lagging.

We’ve all crashed and burned at key moments. Not being an athlete I have no stories of failed attempts to win rounds of anything, but as a public speaker, host and radio announcer I have had more than my fair share of spectacular failures and funnily enough they occurred when I was hosting events for family and friends as opposed to big, flashy functions.

My worst performance as a public speaker occurred as maid of honour for my friend and then my sister. Those speeches were so bad and I managed to offend in both.

Why why why? I’m a professional public speaker for crying out loud. I’m prepared. I’ve practiced. But I crashed and burned because my mind wasn’t right. At my friend’s wedding I felt her over-confidence that I’d be funny was the nail in my coffin. My jokes weren’t too bad but I think they were a little Australian for the mostly Canadian crowd. “I thought cruises were all about promiscuous sex but as Michelle and Rod have shown us, they can result in true love.”

Silence. Someone awkwardly clearing their throats.

And at my sister’s wedding I managed to forget we had close relatives in Melbourne, commenting that I was happy she was getting married because she’d have family in Melbourne now. Oh gosh. Cracking under pressure seemed to be my new specialty.

Pressure is a funny thing. Sometimes it brings out the best in us and at other times it completely undoes us. It’s this very fact, that it can go either way, that makes sport so mesmerizing because no matter how confident we are that an athlete or team will do well, sometimes, for no obvious reason, they don’t.

Lleyton Hewitt deserves as much credit for never giving up as he does for his achievements and as nerve-wracking as it is to watch Samantha Stosur and the Parramatta Eels for that matter, I will persevere because if they won’t give up, then neither will I.

Now, let’s raise our glasses…

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