Branches of Trees and Hail Marys

I see that my golden touch has struck again.

On the morning of the Super Bowl the WinForever website published this piece on something I had written. WinForever is a website for Pete Carroll and Michael Gervais' mindset training program, so it was pretty great to see something I had written appear on the pages of the guys leading the Seattle Seahawks into the Super Bowl.

And then this happened.

I can only apologise to Seahawks fans, and take full responsibility for what happened. When I started this site I can honestly say that I never thought that I'd be responsible for the loss of a Super Bowl.

I hadn't actually offered any tactical advice to the Seahawks. But, as any sports fan knows, just my presence (or absence), the clothes I'm wearing (or not wearing), the place I'm sitting (or didn't sit) will change the course of a game. Even a game thousands of miles away. And so I can't help but feel that my blog post in some way influenced the result of the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, my only experience of American Football tactics comes from playing John Madden Football on the SNES a handful of times in the early 90s.

My default play was a Hail Mary, and I think it is fair to say that my win/loss ratio was patchy at best. Whilst a Hail Mary wasn't an option for the Seahawks, they went for the closest possible alternative, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Sorry everyone. I won't meddle with elite level American Football tactics again. If it is any consolation to Seahawks fans, there's probably not a team in the world better mentally equipped to come back from a moment like that. As Gervais has said previously, "It's one blip on the 20,000 days you are alive. Life is a collection of moments. It's not possible for one moment to define a person".

As it happens, I was distracted by the other big sporting event of last weekend (no, not the Australian Open final) - the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Miami.

But before I talk briefly about Miami, I think the most important news relating to Olympic sailing was that sailing has been dropped from the Paralympics. The reaction has been huge, and I hope the decision is reversed. You can sign a petition to lend your voice here.

Anyway, things are starting to heat up, with Rio only 18 months or so away. Of course, we're much too far away from the Olympics to make any sensible guesses as to where the medals will end up, but there were some interesting results all the same.

I should say that I find it a bit tricky to be unbiased in my analysis of these events. As I grew up sailing in England, and have lived in Ireland for the last 15 years or so, it is the British and Irish results that I look for first. To paraphrase the wonderful words of one English sports commentator: I'm sorry, but I make no apologies for this.

So, in this spirit, there were two results that stood out for me. The first was Luke Patience and Elliot Willis winning the 470 gold. Whilst it is possible that they targeted this event more than Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, it was a significant victory nevertheless. Belcher and Ryan have been nearly unbeatable for years, so it was important that someone won against them this year. That it was Patience that did it, having pushed him so hard for the Gold in 2012, means that Rio has the potential to be a great showdown when it comes around. It's safe to say Patience and Willis were pretty happy.

The other result that stood out was in the men's Laser fleet. I really felt for Nick Thompson. Leading the fleet going into the medal race, his kicker broke and he missed out on gold by 3 points. If such a thing had happened to me, my reaction would have been something like this:

I'm hoping Nick has a more professional response, and I suspect he will. It was a shame for him though, as he hasn't won one of these events before, and it would be good for him to get that monkey off his back before Rio next year. There are so many big names and top contenders in the fleet, and, with Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison off doing other things, it is anyone's guess who will bring home gold when the Olympics come round.

The British Sailing Team came in for a bit of stick after the Rio test event - being described as a one-trick pony by one commenter. That seemed a touch harsh, but success can do strange things and bring huge expectations. The fact is, most countries would be delighted to win a gold, especially as they reached the podium in seven of the ten events in Rio. Perhaps the medal return for Miami will quell the critics for a while, but I'd be surprised if any team walks away from the Olympic Games next year with 3 golds and 3 silvers (or 5 silvers, including the Paralympic classes). It would certainly be a bit much to go into the games expecting such a haul.

I suppose that, when you are in the world of elite sport, smaller things come into sharper focus. Nick Thompson, like the Seattle Seahawks, came so close to victory only to see it slip away. If the Seahawks had completed their play it would have been hailed as one of the boldest moves in a Super Bowl. Instead it is viewed as a massive mistake.

In the end it is how you react to failure that makes you who you are. I wonder what thrashing my Laser with a tree branch would say about me?

2 thoughts on “Branches of Trees and Hail Marys

  1. Congratulations.

    And thank you.

    Because I see that in quoting your post, Michael Gervais and Pete Carroll’s website now has a link to my blog.

    I feel famous.

  2. You were already famous, Tillerman. And no thanks are necessary – it was completely unexpected and very exciting.

    And anyway, after all your kind words about this blog, it was about time I did something in return, however inadvertently.

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