Column: A true Great Briton has been famously defeated

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Our columnist John Griff pays tribute to a Briton who has achieved success through grit and determination...

A great Great Briton was famously defeated - possibly for the last time – this week.

No, however true it might ultimately turn out to be, I am not speaking of Theresa May or of Britain’s much vaunted Deal or No Deal machinations, which now threaten both Brexit and the future of politics in this country.

Instead, I refer to one who has achieved greatness through sheer dogged determination, repetition and practice.

Sir Andrew Barron Murray may well have played his last professional tennis match on Monday, ultimately going out in the first round of the Australian Open to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

But only after a five set, multiple tie-break thriller which had every viewer in the Melbourne Park tournament stadium where he was playing on their feet.

True perhaps, there was an expectation if not outright anticipation that they were on the verge of witnessing the departure of one of the modern-day greats.

But as it turned out, one of tennis’ modern-day greats played beyond all expectations, only acquiescing when the pain and trauma of the hip injury which has dogged him over the past two years conspired ultimately to favour his opponent.

Murray WILL retire this year – but that Wimbledon swansong is still a possibility.

Where do we find such reserves of that determination?

Can they be said to exist within our political and commercial leaders as well as the sporting greats as a matter of course?

What is the nature of this particular commodity and under what circumstances does it rise to turbocharge human behaviour?

I wonder how history will remember the likes of Murray, May and Corbyn.

Each, in turn, has had to draw on their own reserves of determination to perform to the highest of expectations by others, driven by a sense of survival if not indomitability.

Each has, in turn, also had to act on a fundamentally individual basis notwithstanding that they’ve had their own teams to call upon for support, encouragement, or direction.

Each has had to be prepared to be ruthless in order to climb to the top of their respective slippery poles – and each has undoubtedly been so. What aspect of their characters enabled them to do this?

Whatever the traits that have led them to success in their particular fields to date, the nation will need to secure the same as the ramifications of Brexit play out and we also seek the next Wimbledon or Grand Slam champion.

If they could be distilled and administered to all, the nation might be in a stronger position to that in which it finds itself right now.

But then again, if it were to be administered it would probably hasten our own mutual self-destruction.

Look at what is happening in the world of politics at the moment with the degree of dissent, back-stabbing and intrigue within each of the parties representing us in the Palace of Westminster and you will see what I mean.

Has Andy Murray already retired from professional tennis?

As I write this, the picture is not clear.

An endearingly emotional person, he will be taking advice from his team and deciding accordingly.

Might the same also be said of the current Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition?

Both have survivability issues to deal with while simultaneously demonstrating the qualities of leadership that are expected of them.

Is it time for new young lions to emerge to take up the running?

The nation will always have need of the Next Big Thing in whatever field – when, and from where will they emerge?

The time to search is perhaps now...