If you’re stuck on a subject, not knowing where or how to start then the oft tried trick is to open with a question, in this case, what makes a sports person a hero?

The margins that separate someone from having a good or a bad year can be pretty thin. Over the course of a year all those tight margins, the errors or mistakes made contribute to a final summation of a person’s year and, fairly or unfairly, they’re called to task and made an example of.

…it looks fairly middling.

Andy Murray had a good end to the year but judged on the whole it looks fairly middling. Any close defeats or injuries are overlooked because in the end he didn’t win the most important titles of the year. But someone did. And he won not just one but three out of the four Grand Slams.

To belatedly try and answer the question in the first line, what makes Novak Djokovic a hero is something that can be explained and at the same time you can’t do justice to. To rattle off a few clichés, he has a never-say-die attitude, a good temperament and an enthusiasm for the sport he plays. There are times where he does things that aren’t quantifiable or at least can’t be phrased in such simple language as “he hit the ball really hard down the court”. Whether it’s down to luck, innate ability or just practice making perfect, there’s something about Djokovic that makes you stand up and root for him every time he plays. He’s hard to dislike and even though it feels like he was winning all the time last year, you wouldn’t begrudge him his success.

…something mystifying about how he plays.

He’s been dominant in a way few sportspeople achieve over the course of a year. Like Tiger Woods in his pomp or the current Barcelona team, there’s something mystifying about how he plays. The ball seems to do exactly what he wills it to, balls that are beyond his reach he somehow slides and contorts his body to return. He keeps going and doesn’t retreat, showing the utmost concentration and in some ways, respect. He knows what opposition players are capable of and knows that to give even an inch to his opponent could be the difference between winning and losing.

It’s those thin dividing lines again.

…sportsman can suffer from a burnout…

There are times when he loses, where he seems disaffected and his mojo seems out-of-place but that’s not unusual. It’s not improbable that a sportsman can suffer from a burnout and his performance drop as a result. It’s just a surprise when it happens to Novak Djokovic who like Roger Federer can make tennis look rather effortless.

And it’s perhaps his perseverance that makes him out as a hero for this year or any other year, that hunger to win a tournament and not just compete and be satisfied. He’s dogged, resilient, energetic, all the things that make a sportsperson a champion.

…you’re ashamed of being associated…

It’s easy to mark out a villain, they’re often the cheaters, liars or people you’re ashamed of being associated with. With heroes they are the people you’d admire, in some cases the person you’d want to be like. When faced with tough moments and high pressured situations they make it through. They show us the way and help us believe that we can do whatever we put out mind to, train hard and prepare well in order to be successful. It’s a simple thing but often heroes remind us of those inescapable truths. Hard work will reap dividends.

What are your thoughts on Djokovic or any heroes of 2011?

Image courtesy of Novak Djokovic


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