Andy Murray: Scotland’s greatest?

Andy Murray, Britain’s greatest tennis player, has confirmed that he won’t be participating in his next three scheduled tournaments but has yet to make a final decision regarding a much needed hip surgery.

Murray has been forced to withdraw from the Open 13 Provence, a Marseille-based tournament happening in February, due to his career-long hip injury. In a statement published on the tournament’s website, Murray states: “It’s tough but I don’t have a choice, I was very keen on returning to Marseille where I won the tournament in 2008. This title, one of the first of my career, remains a great memory.”

The three-time Grand Slam singles winner underwent hip surgery last January, in an attempt to prolong his tennis career, but without much success. Since having the surgery in 2018, Murray was only able to play 12 matches, nothing compared to the number of matches he would normally partake in during a season.

In the statement from Open 13 Provence, they make reference to Murray possibly having another hip surgery. The operation — known as the Birmingham hip operation — would involve replacing the femoral head with a metal ball and cementing a metal socket into the hip joint.

Just last week, Murray confirmed he would retire from professional tennis after confiding that he has been physically struggling for a “long time”, mostly due to the hip injury which has plagued him most of his career. The two-time Wimbledon star has set his sights on finishing his career at home, but the withdrawal from the French tournament may be the final straw that breaks the camels back.

Murray will be looking to add a third Wimbledon title to his already full trophy cabinet, with a US Open title, two Olympic gold medals, a Davis Cup win and an ATP World Tour victory already there.


Andy Murray after his Wimbledon win in 2013. Picture: Wikipedia user DanielJCooper

Despite being plagued by his injury during the latter part of his career, Murray has cemented himself as one of Scotland’s greatest sportspeople — with Olympic Scottish racing driver and former track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy claiming Murray is the greatest.

Speaking in 2016, Hoy said: “I personally think to have achieved what he has done in such a competitive era in such a high profile sport is a great achievement.”

Although Scotland has produced many notable sportspeople, Murray has had to fight his way to the top, competing against those of such a high standard, that it took him until the age of 29 to reach World Number One status. He has blazed a pathway for young kids to start participating in tennis, a sport with a relatively small Scottish following until he emerged from Dunblane Sports Club.

At 15, Murray was given the opportunity to train with Rangers Football Club at its school of excellence but declined this position to focus on his tennis career. He moved to Barcelona to further his ability as a tennis player and trained alongside Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who would later become Murray’s fiercest rivals.

Later, Murray became the first British man to win an Olympic singles gold medal since Josiah Richie in 1908, and the seventh man in the open era to win two medals at the same Olympic Games when he partnered Laura Robson to a silver medal in the mixed doubles. Just a month later, Murray claimed US Open victory, defeating Djokovic.


Andy Murray celebrates a win at Wimbledon. Picture: Wikipedia user Ianmacm.

A year later, history changed and Scotland couldn’t have been more proud. Leading up to the Wimbledon Championships, Murray was yet to lose a match since the previous years final and was on a winning streak of 11 matches. On a hot July day, Murray smashed 77 years of hurt. A Brit had finally won Wimbledon. 2016 seemed to be repeated for Murray, winning two Olympic gold medals and snatching the Wimbledon title once more.

Murray has used his position to support women in the industry from calling out journalists to becoming one of the few male tennis players to employ a female coach. Murray felt compelled to speak out in 2014, when he hired Amelie Mauresmo, saying: “It became clear to me that she wasn’t always treated the same as men in similar jobs, and so I felt I had to speak out about that”.

Murray also challenged journalists who seemed to disregard the achievements of Murray’s female counterparts. When BBC presenter John Inverdale praised Murray for becoming the first person to win two Olympic gold medals, Murray replied: “Venus and Serena Williams have won four each.”

Not only will Murray be missed for his ability and skill on the court, his passion to ensure the game becomes equal will rage on. Here’s hoping he decides to take a role in coaching so we won’t be without him for too long.

Scottish Football needs to improve its youth system

Rewind back to the 1980s and Scottish football is in full swing, with clubs recording success within Scotland and in European competitions. Clubs were full of homegrown players, who had been scouted and come through the ranks at their respective clubs.

Fast forward to the present day and only a handful of players receiving first-team minutes have come through the youth development systems put in place.

Looking back at how things used to be, Scottish football has taken a step backwards in terms of how they develop the youngsters coming through the ranks. Current Peterhead manager Jim McInally, who worked with the Celtic Youth Academy during the Martin O’Neill era, claims the pro-youth academies are “filled with young kids who will never make it”.

McInally believes the pro-youth system should be scrapped and the old “schools system” should be reinstated, where everyone should be playing for their school, something which isn’t currently happening. McInally is backing current Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, who wants to fix the problem from the bottom up. Strachan believes the coaching programmes in place need to be stripped down to the bare bone to a system that worked well for him and many other players coming through the ranks in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

Those at the very top of Scottish football want to see a commitment from clubs to begin producing players again, but do they have what it takes to make it? The Scottish FA’s performance schools are there to ensure the players receive enough coaching to hone their skills and techniques but believe it is the clubs’ responsibility to make sure the players learn the importance of team play. Scottish football is producing players who have an element of natural ability and have practised their skills perfectly but lack the physical attributes to survive top-level football or the ability to overcome any obstacles.

At the beginning of 2017, the Daily Record looked at which Premiership club played the most Academy players. To qualify, players must have continuous service with their club — excluding any loan deals — and have at least one year of youth football under their belt, before moving onto the first team.

Rangers had the worst record with its homegrown players, with only two from the squad at the time recording first team minutes; Barry McKay and Liam Burt. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes gave four players first team minutes in that season, Dons veterans Andrew Considine, Ryan Jack, Peter Pawlett, and youngster Scott Wright.

Since 2017, Jack and Pawlett have left for Rangers and England respectively, with a number of new Youth Academy recruits coming through. Old Firm rivals Celtic share third place with Hearts, both of which have produced seven players to feature in first team games. Topping the table for development of youth players is Hamilton Academical with 13 players recording first team minutes. Hamilton has always had a strong youth development system, producing James McArthur and James McCarthy who made big money moves to the English Premier League.

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Lewis Smith making his debut against Aberdeen. Picture provided by Hamilton Academical Football Club.

One Hamilton Youth Academy player who has recently made the step up to the first team is Lewis Smith. Smith made his first-team debut in a league defeat against Aberdeen in October, and said: “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time so I was just determined to get on the pitch and show them what I can do”. Smith first got involved in football by “playing at his local boy’s club before being fortunate enough to be picked up by Hamilton”. When asked about Hamilton’s Youth Academy and the coaches, Smith had nothing but praise for the system and those who helped him through the way: “The coaches are very supportive here, most importantly George Cairns. George is a great motivator and it’s him I’ve got to thank for everything”.

The Scottish Youth system is an important feature for the development of players and an integral part of Scottish football as a whole.

2019 – Taking rock climbing to new heights

Only a few years back, rock climbing was considered a niche sport. Now, the number of social climbers and the newbies seem to have caught up with the adrenaline junkies and the muscly athletes which once dominated the sport.

Since the announcement in 2016 that climbing will be considered an Olympic sport, its popularity has boomed. With just a year and a half to go until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, more people are curious about exploring new heights, both outdoor and indoor.

In 2017, around one million people in the UK tried indoors climbing, with around 100,000 climbing once every two weeks or more, numbers from the Association of British Climbing Walls show.

Edinburgh climber Robbie Phillips thinks the sport has grown because it has become more accessible. With four walls in Edinburgh alone, there is room for the community to expand even further.

maria pic.jpg

Climbing “El Niño” on El Capitan – Credits to

“The modern climbing wall caters for the community like they never did before. Climbing walls are more like social hubs, it is not a case that a climbing wall is something somebody just goes to have a climb or train, they are places people go to meet, hang out with friends, drink coffee and eat cake! This bolsters the community as a whole, brings everyone a little closer and creates more retention in the sport,” says Phillips.

Climbing walls are becoming alternatives to traditional gyms and more people are joining for either social or fitness reasons. Phillips points out that as climbing has a reputation of being adventurous, it encourages people to discover the explorer in them and to push their limits.

This rocky adventure is also becoming popular on the big screen. Last year, two big climbing documentaries were released in the UK, warmly welcomed by the growing audience: “The Dawn Wall” featuring Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, and “Free Solo” with Alex Honnold. Both set in the climbing Mecca of Yosemite, the experience of being on El Capitan is brought right to you in the cinema seat. With film tours such as Reel Rock and Brit Rock – where you can see Phillips star in “Blood Moon” – selling out shows and set to make returns, inspiration continues to flow from the cinema screen.

These films showcase the mental side of climbing, which Phillips thinks is one of the most interesting aspects to the sport. He says: “Climbing keeps you fit in nearly every way and certainly attracts the kind of people who like a mental challenge as well as a physical one.”


Rock climbing challenges both the body and the mind. Photo: Maria Gran

It is no wonder climbing has become so popular as Phillips highlights the good things about the sport. As a low impact sport, anyone can give it a try, it is a great way to stay fit, and it offers a chance to become a part of a very supportive community. Phillips even compares it to another popular activity, video games: “You can go as hard as you want, as easy as you want and you can literally make up your own adventure or climbing session – it’s like the RPG of the sporting world.”

Celtic edge Aberdeen in Betfred Cup Final – The Talking Points

Celtic celebrate Betfred Cup victory. Photo by Russell Cheyne via Retuers (1)

Celtic celebrate Betfred Cup victory. Photo by Russell Cheyne via Retuers

Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic won their 18th League Cup title over the weekend as they beat Aberdeen 1-0. This is the Glasgow side’s seventh consecutive trophy under Rodgers whose side begin their defensive of Scotland’s domestic silverware.

While the scoreline may not reflect it, there were plenty of talking points as Celtic aim for their third consecutive treble winning season.

Ryan Christie haunts Dons

After a successful season under Derek McInnes side last campaign, Ryan Christie returned to Glasgow with the hunger to compete for first team football.

The 23-year-old had to wait some time for his chance but as soon as it arrived, the Scotland international hasn’t looked back. Christie has been involved in eight goals for club this season (five goals, three assists) and scored the all so decisive goal in Hampden on Sunday.

Speaking after the match, Christie highlighted that ‘it’s so strange’ the position he is in now in comparison to when he initially returned back to Celtic.

He said: “It’s hard to kinda look back and put myself in the mind frame I was at the start of the season. I’m delighted obviously how things have turned out and long may it continue because obviously I’m loving my football at Celtic right now. Even when I signed the contract I said that I wanted to make an impact at this club and wanted to help them bring back silverware so days like today help that.”


Aberdeen lack firepower

Despite both sides being fairly even with regards to possession, it was Celtic who dominated in the chances in front of goal. Rodgers’ side relished 17 shots, seven of which were on course to goal in comparison to two of Aberdeen’s seven finding the target.

This has once again set eyes on both McInnes and the board on recruitment with the club failing to replace players like Adam Rooney, James Maddison and Jonny Hayes with those who can fill the void of a clinical finisher. All three of which started the two sides last meeting in a League Cup final in 2016.

This is a problem Aberdeen have got away with in cup competition over the years under McInnes but has caught up with them this season in the league. They’re six points worse off than they were at this point last campaign and currently sit seventh in the SPFL.

The concussion to Gary Mackay-Steven sustained in a clash of heads with Dedryck Boyata certainly didn’t aid Aberdeen’s chances to pull back an equaliser. Thankfully Mackay-Steven has been discharged from hospital and begins his recovery but it must be said that his creativity for the Dons was clearly apparent.


Celtic edged Aberdeen at Hampden on Sunday. Photo by Jmorrison230582 via Wikipedia

Will Celtic complete a ‘treble treble’?

While we’re not even into the new year and their Old Firm rivals sit top of the Premiership – albeit Celtic have a game in hand – some are beginning to believe Celtic could be on course for a record breaking third treble winning season in a row under Brendan Rodgers.

However, the Hoops manager has no intention of getting carried away with this idea and insisted after the final that the Glasgow side have plenty of work still to do before they can consider this possibility.

He said: “We haven’t even played the second round of games yet in the league. That’s a long way away. This was a very satisfying win this, after the start that we had in the summer we had. The last two months we’ve pulled our idea back round again in terms of our football and the quality of our game. Like I say, these players deserve it today. But like everything they’ve done since I’ve come in, they’ve had to earn it. There’s been nothing presented to them. They’ve had to earn it and they’ve earned it today.”

Girls With Goals

Women’s football has never been so popular.

Scottish Women's Football Team. Credits to Anders Henrikson

Scottish Women’s Football Team. Credits to Anders Henrikson

It may not be the official sport of our nation, but football’s following in Scotland is one of the most passionate around the globe. Sorry, golf fans. However, while off the field problems can blur the importance of what’s happening on the pitch, one section appears unfazed by these issues: the women’s game.

Support for women’s football is on the rise in Scotland with match attendance and viewing figures growing every season.

One of the leading teams in Scotland, Glasgow City, is on course for what could be their 12th consecutive league title, beating league rivals Hibernian in the closing stages of the league campaign.

You could argue that City’s dominance in the division doesn’t make for the most compelling league to watch, but their style of play is up there with the best. Hibernian can give Glasgow a run for their money at the best of times – with both sides having some success in the Women’s Champions League in recent years.

The success of teams domestically has somewhat transitioned to the national team as well. The Scotland women’s side qualified for their first ever World Cup earlier this year, having played in their first finals tournament in the European Championships in 2017.

It’s been more than 20 years since Scotland’s men’s team qualified for a major football tournament yet the women’s team have restored faith in Scottish football. When the team arrives in France for the World Cup, they may feel slightly out their depth.

There’s no beating around the bush, the funding for Scotland’s women’s team is far behind the wages of other national sides. But, leading into this tournament, out of the 23 players in the Scotland squad, 19 are professional.

The remaining four non-professionals may have to leave Scotland and head south of the border – where there are no amateur clubs in the top flight – to pursue their dream of becoming full-time players; something which their male counterparts probably would not have to do.

However, the success of the national team has struck a chord with young girls across Scotland. Participation in women’s football has risen from 6,500 to 12,000, bringing the goal of a professional women’s league in Scotland a lot closer.

It’s shocking to believe women’s football was once banned in Scotland. During World War One, the attendances for women’s football exceeded 50,000 but came to a halt when the men came home. One hundred years later, it’s women who are bringing football home.

The peak in interest has prompted UEFA to provide women’s football with 50% more funding from the year 2020. An additional £2.4 million will be given to women’s football projects per year, provided by profits from their male counterparts.

The rise in funding aims to take football right to the top as Europe’s biggest female sport but to get there they also need to fund coaching development. Something UEFA assured they would do, as they announced plans to increase the number of qualified female coaches.

Scotland has a national side playing in the World Cup next year, something we haven’t seen with the men’s side for over two decades. We should be excited about the future of women’s football – it’s certainly about to kick off.

Opinion: What now for Partick Thistle?

Alan Archibald

Alan Archibald was sacked after a poor run of form. Credit to Lauren Archer.

On Saturday, Partick Thistle sacked their manager, Alan Archibald. Archibald was the second longest-serving manager in Scotland, after being appointed by the club in 2013.

Archibald began his managerial career after the departure of Jackie McNamara in January 2013, although this was purely an interim basis. In March, Archibald and former player Scott Paterson were given the job on a permanent basis, signing a one-year rolling contract. In his first season, Archibald guided Thistle to the Scottish Premiership, after winning the First Division – now known as the Championship. In the same season, Archibald took the team to the Scottish Challenge Cup Final, narrowly losing to Queen of the South on penalties.

Archibald’s Thistle had a rocky start to their time in the Premiership. The club went seven months without a win at home but their record away from home proved they were more than able to stand toe-to-toe with other Premiership teams. The 2015/16 season saw the team go on a run of success, picking up seven points out of nine, resulting in Archibald being awarded the Premiership Manager of the Month award for November.

Speaking in 2016, Archibald hailed his side for consistent improvement over the years of his managerial reign.

Partick Thistle host Dundee United this weekend at Fir Hill. Credit to Lauren Archer.

He said: “I’ve always had a good group of players here underneath us and with a bit of success, winning the Championship. We’ve stayed in the league and that’s judged the success here because of our smaller budget. We’ve always progressed and gradually we’ve gotten better and better.”

Archibald kept Partick in the top flight for five consecutive seasons, finishing in the top six of the 2016/17 season for the first time since the post split fixtures were introduced in 2000/01.

Thistle suffered in the 2017/18 season, finishing in 11th place, meaning the team went into a relegation/promotion play-off with Championship runner-ups Livingston. Partick Thistle lost the two games, resulting in the club being relegated. At the time, the Thistle board were happy with Archibald and decided to stick with him. After a poor start to the 2018/19 Championship season, Archibald was dismissed by the club.

“I’ve always had a good group of players here underneath us and with a bit of success.”

So what now for Partick Thistle? Well it’s been all quiet on the Western front of Glasgow as there has been next to nothing with regards to candidates to take the managerial role.

The team face Dundee United on Saturday, who appointed Robbie Neilson as their head coach on Monday. Neilson himself was linked with the Thistle job, reportedly staying not too far from Fir Hill.

However, The Jags missed out on the former Hearts manager leaving them in a race to appoint a successor ahead of their Championship fixture this weekend.

Dobbie would score anywhere says Naysmith amid Scotland link

Queen of the South Arena

Queen of the South Arena. Copyright credit to Hugh Close.

Queen of the South boss, Gary Naysmith believes ‘on fire’ striker, Stephen Dobbie could do it for Scotland, however, he doesn’t expect Dobbie to receive the call of duty anytime soon.

The 35-year-old has scored 24 goals already this season, more than the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe put together.

With Leigh Griffiths pulling out Alex McLeish’s Scotland side to ‘focus on fitness’, it leaves a vacant space up front for the national side.

While Naysmith was open to allowing the Scottish Championship striker to be included in the match squad for Scotland’s matches against Israel and Portugal, he doesn’t expect a ring from the Scotland boss.

He said: “Well you’ll get the cynical people who’ll say that it’s just the Scottish Championship and it doesn’t really count but to score that amount of goals at any level it takes some doing. And he’s done it consistently at his time at Queen of the South.

“There’s no doubt he’d be available, yes I would be surprised. I think Stephen answered that question himself in the papers at the weekend that he thinks his time has passed.

“He’s quite happy to be playing for Queen of the South. But what I would say is to anybody is Stephen Dobbie will score goals at any level. He’s done it while he was in England, scored in play-off finals. Stephen Dobbie will score goals wherever he plays.”

The Queen of the South manager added that it would be a step up for Dobbie to cope fitness wise, but he believed he could cope with the challenge.

“I do think he could cope with it. Obviously, it’s just speculation, people are putting two and two together and trying to make something happen but it is just speculation.

“It’s a big step up to try go through Scotland Championship to international level but like I said previously, he would score goals at any level he plays at.”

The Doonhamers take on East Fife in the third round of the Irn Bru Challenge Cup this weekend, a side Naysmith managed for three years up until 2016. The League One side have won their last six fixtures and Naysmith was weary of the threat they pose.

“Stephen Dobbie will score goals at any level. He’s done it while he was in England, scored in play-off finals. Stephen Dobbie will score goals wherever he plays.”

He said: “They’re a team that are in form. They never started the season too well, but they’ve picked it up in recent weeks.

“They’re going to be a tough game. They’re a team playing with confidence and any team playing with confidence become harder opponents. They beat Partick Thistle in the last round in the cup, it wasn’t like Partick played a really weakened team. They made one or two changes, but they still had a really strong team out. So, it’s going to be a very difficult game for us.”

East Fife have kept four clean sheets in those six wins but Naysmith was confident that his side have the firepower to break them down.

He said: “I’m always confident we’ll score with the attacking players we’ve got in the team. I think we’ve scored something like 40 odd goals in 15 games this season.

“That’s how we set the team up, to go and try and score and sometimes it goes the other way and you concede a few but we do generally fancy ourselves to score.”

Meadowbank Centre in funding crisis

Meadowbank - no credit

Concerns arise amid council vote.

Councillors are set to decide whom to award the contract for building the new state of art sports centre in Edinburgh. However, questions are raised over where the money for the project will come from.

The Edinburgh City Council Finance Committee is being asked to approve a £39 million contract to build the new centre but the Save Meadowbank campaign has exposed the pitfalls in the council’s plan.

Executive Director of Communities and Families within the Council, Alistair Gaw, submitted a paper to the finance committee for discussion on 11 October with the comment that the capital funding for the project will mainly come from the sale of 300 homes due to be built on one half of the site.

“This is completely inaccurate because his report is based on a previous Council plan which was thrown out by the planning committee when it met in June,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock in an official statement.

Campaigners claim the inaccuracy is due to the council maintaining their plan for the new homes while claiming to have started from a “clean state.” They are committed to preserving the Meadowbank’s green space and have cast doubts over the council’s plans and whether the project will commence.

Save Meadowbank’s representative, Russell McLarty, was particularly critical of the council’s approach to the situation:

“If they had had a more measured approach and looked at different options for the overall development of the site and funding – including borrowing – then they may have come up with something better. However, they are pushing ahead and are constrained by the desire to produce a sports centre – the council seem to have gone about this the wrong way.”

The council, when prompted, refused to comment on the situation.

A report to the council finance committee has warned that the figures may be unreliable and that the council may end up with a funding deficit of £24 million. It outlines a precautionary £7 million that should not be used until more accurate data is received.


Jessica Jones – A mixing pot of neo-noir mystery and female empowerment

Kirsten Ritter as Jessica Jones Image Credit: Netflix

Arguably the best of Netflix Marvel’s TV returns for a second season- providing a perfect cultural avatar that reflects the outrage and unity of the Post #MeToo world.

The second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was released last week to coincide with National Woman’s day. This happened for a very important reason. IT is a show created for and about woman.

Each of the 13 episodes in the second season was directed by woman and, while Marvel do often have strong female characters in their films and tv shows. This is their first creation with a female lead.

It is no secret that the world of comic books and their mainstream superhero’s has been a male dominated market. All the recent Marvel success’ – Avengers Assemble, Spiderman: Homecoming, Captain America, Thor – all feature men as the main hero, idols of super strength and unatural power.

Scarlett Johansson as Marvel’s Natalia Romanoff ( The Black Widow) Image Credit: Marvel Studios

However the woman in the Marvel universe usually fall within one of two categories.There is the ‘love interest’, or to put it more accurately, the damsel in distress. The classic narrative trope of man saves woman, who seems to get into trouble at every turn. Then there is the ‘flawless’ heroine. With their flawless fight sequences where their hair and make-up are always precise, clad in skin-tight spandex, and always equipped with a sarcastic line or funny quip as a comeback.

It was then that Jessica Jones broke the mold. Jones lives by herself, runs her own private investigator business, and is the very definition of anti-social. A woman dealing with the horrors of her past and is angry being labeled and told what to do by others. Oh and just so happens to have super strength as the result of being experimented on.

Jones is angry at the world. She and those closest to her where victim to many horrendous crimes and injustices. Repeatedly and often brutally committed by mostly men. Jones has been orphaned, raped, exploited, and generally abused by those in positrons of power. Both human and Superhuman in nature.

And it’s the ways she copes, or doesn’t, with her anger, superhuman alcoholism and tendency to rely on her fist to solve her problems that made her an icon. An embodiment of all the emotions in this post #MeToo age.

Kirsten Ritter, the actor who plays Jones, has had many people come up to her with praise for the character.

Real women on the street came up to me in tears because this was the first time they felt represented by the lead; it made them feel so much better about their own traumas,” Ritter says. “Even hearing women saying they were excited to see a badass female character was great: people responded to her in such a huge way.”

The series broaches some serious issues, such as abortion, rape, domestic abuse, and addiction. But it does so with a deft hand. Offering a new perspective on trauma, that even those with power can be rendered defenseless. That these issues can be subject to anyone. It re-writes the victim narrative so that the viewer can begin to understand a fraction of how abuse can affect someone.

Overall the show offers a message of hope and inspiration. Showing the difficulties that survivors face, that opening up can help even though its hard and that most of all , Jones wasn’t to blame. This is all the while fighting her demons, both metaphorically and literal.

Watch the season 2 trailer here:

How ‘I, Tonya’ shines the spotlight on the pressures of international circuit figure skaters

An ex figure skater’s initial reaction to hearing about the release of a film depicting one of figure skating’s biggest scandals is naturally going to be excitement.

A film depicting the life of Tonya Harding, the redneck Olympian pushing the boundaries in every way imaginable, would undoubtedly bring back memories of controversy for even non – enthusiasts.

Film titles for I,Tonya

Revolving around an attack on Nancy Kerrigan orchestrated partly by Harding’s ex-husband, the story shows their battle with the media in preparation for the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic games and leaves questions about how the sport has changed since – if at all.

Within the last year, the competitive figure skating circuit has seen two of its top skaters step down from competing. Gracie Gold and Julia Lipnitskaya both made shock exits from the figure skating scene in 2017, prompting a lot of questions about what skaters are dealing with behind the closed doors of an ice rink.

But the truth of the matter is – they rarely have such a thing as privacy in their new roles as their countries’ ‘sweethearts’. Gracie Gold, aptly named US Figure Skating’s ‘Golden Girl’ withdrew with a multitude of issues including anxiety and an eating disorder and is yet to return.


Julia Lipnitskaya shot to fame in the 2014 Olympics after winning the Gold medal for Russia in the team event at only 15 years old. She retired in August last year with anorexia, age 19. Both girls had become overnight sensations; Gracie due to her strong social media following and Julia making headlines in Russia because of her young age and a much reported hug from President Vladimir Putin at the 2014 Olympics. Only a couple of months after her triumphs there she confessed she felt “constant stress” and that she was trapped, unable to live up to the expectations of her following.

Canadian pairs skater and Olympian Kirsten Moore-Towers thinks that the media definitely play a part in a skater’s mindset going into competition;

“I think media coverage is very important for our sport, but I think it depends on the type of skater that you are on how you handle it. Some people really struggle with the mental aspect of competition. For me, it’s a healthy mix of both.”

Elizabeth Ryan, Master Practitioner of Figure Skating Psychology, also thinks it depends on the personality of a person, but believes that privacy is also important;

“It really depends on how they deal with the coverage and if they are comfortable with it or not, but I do think it adds to the pressure. It can have a negative impact on a skater’s performance when a camera is on them and a microphone thrust at them immediately before a skate or just after they’ve skated badly. But the sport is a ‘performance’ one and that necessarily means an audience and wider interest from the media as they start to become better known on the international circuit.”

So then maybe figure skating hasn’t changed; although the media are no longer flattening the tyres of the skaters in question like in the case of Harding to get a new picture of her, the press still continue to hound the stars of the sport – regardless of their personality and ability to deal with fame. Tonya’s world collapsed around her, albeit partly from her own doing – but the media’s headlines of “Few Tears, No Blood as Snow White Beats Poison Dwarf,” (Irish Times), and “Beauty crushes the Beast,” (Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet) left even the opposition with a bad taste in their mouths.

Julia Lipnitskaya performing her Olympic medal winning programme to ‘Schindler’s List’

Now over twenty years later the careers of two girls are lost as the media once again circled and piled on the pressure; but just like Tonya’s life after her figure skating career as she fought in a boxing ring, Lipnitskaya and  Gold both vowed to fight back – the latter planning to return to competitive skating.

With figure skating on the back burner for most organisations once again after the Winter Olympics, the media frenzy has shifted. As the lights in the cinema rise, the spotlight on the troubles facing the golden girls of figure skating once again fades.

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