WE retained our unbeaten record with a heart-stopping 40-39 win over the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic at home last Sunday.
The Magic threw everything at us and led for most of the match. They had done everything right until the final few minutes, when the pressure of our full-court tenacity got the better of them.
Our Melbourne Vixens defensive unit, lead by rock star and English import Geva Mentor, controlled the defensive end and put goal shooter Irene Van Dyk under all sorts of pressure. Our midcourt played their role of a disciplined and patient brand of netball and our goalers stood up and delivered when it mattered. A compelling goal-for-goal battle saw a full-team performance triumph.
We all have in our memory a great sporting experience and it is usually one of a pressure-building moment where athletes go beyond their physical capabilities and, often against enormous odds, create greatness.
For me, I’ll never forget watching Sharelle McMahon shoot the winning goal after the siren had sounded in overtime to win the 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medal. Another one of my favorites is when Kieren Perkins won the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Gold Medal while swimming from lane eight after scraping into the final by the smallest of margins.
I took the time to ask some netball superstars for the advice they would give to themselves if they could hit pause in the dying seconds of a pressure match.
This is what they think of when faced with a make or break moment in their sporting career.
Caitlin Bassett, West Coast Fever netballer, Australian Diamond (shot the winning goal in the 2011 World championships final):
“The game was so tight and the crowd was so loud it felt like I was in a dream. Looking back I should have been terrified to be playing in such a close game but at the time all I wanted was the ball in my hands. I’ve never been regarded as a calm or strong player but every time I went up for the ball I knew I had to come down with it in my possession. Because I missed the goal in regular time that forced the game into overtime I couldn’t bear the thought of letting the team down and forever being labelled as ‘that girl who lost the game for the Aussies’. So I suppose fear of failure pushed me to another level.”
Eloise Southby-Halbish, 10-year national team representative:
“I always remained focused and thought about controlling the controllables. I stuck to my normal routine (especially with a goal-shooting action). Truly believing in yourself and telling yourself you can, means you will.”
Shelley O’Donnell, 10-year national team representative:
“There is nothing more exhilarating to win in the dying seconds of a game. It is even better to have been a part of the final play so my advice is to play fearless and keep attacking and wanting the ball. There is no time for self doubt. ”
This Sunday we are up against the Queensland Firebirds, an extremely dangerous team. I look forward to seeing a few busloads from Camperdown for the match that kicks off at 2.20pm.