OPINION: Being a sports fan can be so exciting, thrilling, rewarding and intense. This week in international sport we've been spoilt by some of the most outstanding and amazing performances by absolute superstars and it's been inspirational, motivating and extremely fun.
If there was ever a week where the Southern Steel could draw some zing and X-factor from sporting heroes around us, to get us over the line and back on the winning train, it was definitely the week gone by.
First, let's talk about Rafael Nadal and his seventh French Open victory. He faced some fierce competition in the lead-up to the final, and had to take on the arrogance and defiance of world No1 Novak Djokovic.
But, like any true champion, he took ownership of the court and put on a performance that again showed there is no-one else capable of the class on clay that Nadal has. Fans could see there was no way any punk from Serbia was going to step onto his clay court and take his title. That's how a true champion rolls.
Next is Tiger Woods and his escalation to favourite for the US Open. He has risen from his own ashes to show the true champion he is. He won a challenging Memorial Open and now, into the US Open, Woods is pushing the boundaries of brilliance, on track to win a 17th major.
Despite your opinion of his personal indiscretions, it takes true talent to return to form and produce a championship-winning game, consistently.
When interviewed, all Woods could talk about was how well he hit the ball and how good it felt to be playing well.
That kind of uncompromising inner confidence is crucial to performing at your best consistently.
It would be a crime not to mention the insane spectacle that has been the NBA Finals series. Game 1 between Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder had everything.
The big-ticket superstars of Dwayne Wade and LeBron James burst out of the gates and took the Heat to an early lead, then the brilliance and enthusiasm of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook showed class and composure beyond their years to lead the Thunder's second-half charge to victory.
It was such a massive game that the whole Steel team were caught on the edge of our hotel beds watching and screaming right to the final whistle. What was most impressive was the way the young Thunder team stood up to the Heat, when players like LeBron were on absolute fire, and stuck to their game plan to break open the match when it counted.
Last and definitely not least on the list of outstanding performances for the week were the test debuts of All Blacks Aaron Smith and Julian Savea. Three tries on debut by Savea and a scintillating performance with the ball by Smith were phenomenal. You would never expect two players on debut to produce such mature performances. It was so exciting and impressive to see how those guys rose to the challenge, of course supported by the seniors around them, and played out of their skins to lift the All Blacks to an awesome win.
So what did we learn from these great sporting performances that we will take into the velodrome on Monday night against the Tactix?
If we play with uncompromising self-belief, sticking to the team game-plan, with a determined resolve to defend our territory and the ability for all players to rise to the challenge, then we, too, can put out a superstar performance for our fans.
Pretty simple really.
- The Southland Times