Crio’s Q: Adversity

The Swannies must have ached this week. There’s no way that the death of a mate’s child can be fuel to win a game of footy. But they “dug deep”, knowing there was nothing else that they could do.

I thought they’d be emotionally spent. Grieving and, to be honest, probably outclassed.

But they won.

Psychological boffins will have their theories, but there’s no real way of knowing for sure how we respond to extraordinary situations.

For some it can be an outlet. For others, an irrelevance.

Overwhelmingly it is not important in the “greater scheme”. Yet I am fascinated at how some people manage to vanquish crushing pressure and perform on a public stage….such as a sports field.


  1. I’ll kick this discussion off with the example of Olly – primarily his capacity to ride and win The Cup after his brother’s death, but further evidenced on saturday where he had a winner after being plastered over the Hun’s front page. Remarkable.

  2. Mick Jeffrey says:

    A few cricket examples come readily to mind, such as Mark Taylor @ Edgbaston 1997 and Steve Waugh at the SCG in 2002/2003. For Tubby it was the pressure of not making runs, and having the team changed basically to overcome his shortage of runs (Michael Bevan playing as an all-rounder @ 7 with his left arm Chinamen, then having Matt Elliott come in at 3 in South Africa when Tubby and Matt Hayden opened). For Steve, it wasn’t so much the runs given he’d scored a couple of 50’s, but it was the press that was all over him at every opportunity, and that the week before he was physically battered by the English bowlers who hadn’t fired a shot to that stage of the tour.

  3. The one that sticks in my mind is Pete Sampras in the 1995 Australian Open quarter final against Jim Courier. Sampras’ coach and friend Tom Gulickson (of the famous Tom and Tim brothers doubles pairing) had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to return to US for treatment.
    Tied 2 sets all and a fan yelled out “do it for your coach”. Sampras broke down in tears and I thought he would not be able to go on. Courier was a friend and said across the net “we can do this tomorrow you know”. Apparently Sampras felt that was belittling him and pulled himself together to serve a series of aces and win the set and match. In an interesting example of reverse psychology it was Courier’s game that suffered as he seemed unable to press hard against a wounded friend. I remember it was great drama to watch unfold.

  4. Fact check: It was Tim Gullikson that coached Sampras. The identical twins won 15 top-level doubles tournaments together according to Wikipedia and were Wimbeldon runners-up in 1983. Apparently he already had the tumour diagnosis and continued to coach, but had a stroke in Melbourne during the Open. There is a Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation in the US that helps patients and families cope with the social and emotional side of the disease.

  5. johnharms says:

    I recall Kim Hughes great (advisedly) innings against the West Indies at the MCG in 1981. I believe his father-in-law had just died. That was one of the most riveting days of Test cricket which ended with Lillee taking four wickets and the the visitors being 4/10.

  6. great get Peter.
    Didn’t Christchurch’s Rugby side continue when they had enough excuses, post Earthquakes, to turn it up?

  7. I thought Kerryn McCann’s win in the women’s marathon at the 2006 Commonwealth Games was riveting. Her story was remarkable, but just as great was Hellen Cherono Koskei of Kenya who ran second. Extraordinary finish as they both ran into the MCG almost together. The physical and mental fatigue was all over their faces. McCann just had a bit much in the tank and won. Sadly she was dead from breast cancer about 2 years later.

  8. Dips in the Stawell Gift.

    He was apparently under extreme pressure from being ‘diminutive’

  9. one goat, Phantom…you are ruthless!

  10. Jesse Owens might be a fair example?

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