In 2008 Hugh McCutcheon's Olympic journey of tragedy and triumph played out in front of the world's eyes. In 2012 the classy Cantabrian just wants it to be about the volleyball.
And, really, who can blame the man. The personable Kiwi who coached the USA men to gold in 2008, and is looking to achieve a remarkable double with the American women over the next fortnight, is not here to relive the emotional rollercoaster of Beijing, and he's certainly not here to re-air the private moments of a tragedy that he fears will define his sporting legacy.
That much was clear when McCutcheon faced the media for the first time in London yesterday, with the 42-year-old spiking away attempts to get him to open up on the Beijing horror show where his father-in-law was murdered at a city tourist spot right as the big Kiwi was getting set to guide the USA men to their first Olympic gold in 20 years.
Now he's jumped the gender divide and taken charge of an American women's team that has never won Games gold, but is the No 1 side in the world, there's inevitable interest in him reliving that personal hell (his wife Elisabeth was there when the attack happened, and her mother Barbara was also injured).
But McCutcheon was having none of it yesterday, choosing only to focus on his role with this American women's side that has gone 23-1 in 2012, won three consecutive FIVB world grand prix titles and is the favourite for gold in London.
"The Beijing stuff is not really relevant here. It's very much about the USA women, this campaign and this group. Eyes forward at this stage," said the one-time Shirley Boys High, Canterbury University and New Zealand standout when asked for the first time to reflect on 2008.
"The challenge is great and we embrace that. We have worked hard to be here and believe we are playing the best volleyball of the quad right now, so bring it on," he surmised.
His captain Lindsey Berg described McCutcheon as someone who has changed them as players and as people, as someone who has taught them about respect. She said there was a supreme confidence they could deliver something special.
"The team hope to make history with him and win gold," said Berg. "Being No 1 is a positive. We earned it and we are here to prove it at the biggest show we have been in." Nonetheless, Bejing kept being raised. McCutcheon was polite, always personable, but this intelligent fellow who may be New Zealand's most successful coaching export consistently refused to turn this pre-Games press conference into a soap opera.
"It's not really part of this story so it's not difficult," he said about any anxieties he may or may not have. He has no family visiting this time, though he does have a married sister who lives in London. "My wife and children are staying at home and my mother (Milly) is in New Zealand. All is as it should be."
McCutcheon, who visited Christchurch last year after the second 'quake, did offer a few glimpses into a time he calls "the best of times and the worst of times".
Like why he disappeared so soon in the aftermath of the winning point.. "I knew they'd be trying get it all on TV and those were pretty private moment. I was just trying to take a breath and recompose myself. I didn't want to have my heart on my sleeve in front of the world." And his emotions now he's about to start another Olympic campaign. "When I say [Beijing] doesn't matter, obviously it matters. But it's not part of this story... One thing I can tell you is I'm really happy I'm here, I'm glad I'm part of this Olympics and I'm glad I'm part of this team.
"It's my third Games, but I have been successful and gone through the full gamut of what the Olympics have to offer. The experiences I've had are probably unique but I know there are people here that get them... it feels good, it feels comfortable."
"I don't think so," he shrugs. "That whole side of things was very personal stuff that was dealt with off of this stage. I just think it's more from a professional point of view. That's the connection. Our family stuff isn't on the world stage, it's just the volleyball side of things. And that's how it should be."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Where should Val Adams be presented her gold medal?Related story: (See story)