Before embarking on our last world tour before the Sydney Olympics, we set three major goals.
- To win an event, to get that feeling of winning so that, as with the firewalk, we could tap back into that feeling: we would have a reference for the experience of winning.
- To beat every team we may encounter at the Games, and there were only two that we hadn’t beaten at one time or another.
- To maintain a high standard the whole way, instead of winning one then coming fifth.
We managed to achieve two of these goals. What we didn’t do was win a tournament. We beat all the teams we needed to beat: the Brazilians Adriana and Shelda, who we were pretty sure would make the final in Sydney; and America’s Holly McPeak and Misty May, who we beat in the last game of the World Tour in Japan. Before this game against Holly and Misty, we played the semi-final against Adriana and Shelda and lost badly. We came off the court depressed, but Steve said to us “This happened for a reason, because now you have to play Holly and Misty, and they’re the only team you have left to beat. So go out there and beat them”. And we did, for the first time. It’s amazing how you can always find a new perspective on all situations.
We realised we had beaten everyone we needed to beat: our self-belief was reinforced. We hadn’t won a tournament, but the feeling of winning the ones we needed to win was very important to us. Most importantly, we played consistently to a high standard. We were reaching the semi-finals on a consistent basis, finishing third three times and fourth once. In the games we lost, we played at a much higher standard than we had ever played before. We felt we could honestly say, without making excuses, that we weren’t losing; at that point in time they were beating us. This was our time for learning. We were working on aspects of our game that needed fine-tuning, having narrowed them down to a few manageable things. As Bob Proctor said “There is a season to sow and a season to reap”. This was our season to sow.
We accepted that we didn’t just need to win; we needed to struggle; to fight the battle. In some of our games, we were going down 17–15, 16–14. But they were battles to the end, and we weren’t spitting the dummy as we might have in the past. Importantly, we noticed we were slowly adding new weapons to our game all the time. And we were amazed at our own patience! We had certainly come a long way. A maturity to our game was beginning to show through.
“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” – William A. Ward
In Canada, we lost a match to Brazil, the World Champions, 15–8. They won but we left them with a warning: it was a titanic physical and psychological struggle. At the time I wrote “They won this time, but we know we are close. It’s like a tidal wave building itself up from out at sea, and it’s planning to crash on the shores of Bondi on September 25th. Lessons were learnt and battle lines drawn”.