The strength of the mind

The human mind is a wonderful thing. It can calculate the answer to a question in a split second. To board a train, to get a glass of water, to walk out the door.
It also enables us to cope with everything in our own way.
As an athlete, you not only train your body to cope with the immense physical pressure you put it under, but also undergo mental training to help cope with competition, injury and other setbacks.
This weekend, the tragic news of Gary Speed’s death, affected everyone in the world of football. I won’t claim personal sorrow, but having seen the brilliance of the player and manager that he was, I found myself in shock. To those who worked alongside and under him, it must have been terrible. As for his friends and family, I can’t imagine…
When the news broke, I was finishing training at the rowing club. I first heard via Twitter. I then headed for the BBC Sport website and told a fellow football fan and rower. He was in complete shock and didn’t believe me.
My first thought was that the Swansea match would be postponed.
I was wrong and I was confused at why this would be. The emotions displayed by players and fans alike pushed me to believe that the match going ahead, was not right. The minutes silence, turned quickly into applause with chants of ‘Theres only one Gary Speed’ and at this I was close to tears. It was touching to witness.
I felt uncomfortable that the match was going ahead, but soon it became evident that the players wanted to be there and were playing the game for Speed.
The strength of character shown by those who played on Sunday and those who continued in their jobs having known the man personally, showed great courage and they have my respect.
It’s the worst thing as a journalist to have to announce someone’s death, let alone someone you and everyone around you knows. It’s not something I ever had to do in my time. I can only imagine what the BBC 5 Live and Sky team’s went through when informing people of the tragic news, while remaining the professionals we all know them as.
I may not have agreed with the Swansea match going ahead to start with, but I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong. And I was wrong. It was a surreal match to watch but something I think all involved had to do.

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