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Murray still haunted by horror of Dunblane

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-28 09:46
In a documentary charting his comeback from injury, Andy Murray reveals the impact the 1996 Dunblane school massacre in Scotland has had on his life and career. REUTERS

British star opens up about emotional wounds of infamous mass shooting

LONDON - Former world No 1 Andy Murray reveals for the first time in a new documentary that he suffered from breathing problems and anxiety following the Dunblane School massacre.

The 32-year-old and his older brother Jamie were pupils at the school in Scotland where, on March 13, 1996, Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children, aged between 5 and 6, and a teacher in the gym before turning the gun on himself.

Andy Murray, then 8 years old, had been on his way to the gym with his classmates when the 44-year-old Hamilton - armed with four handguns and 700 rounds of ammunition - opened fire.

He was ushered away and told to hide under the windows of the school principal's office while Jamie, who is 15 months older, was in another classroom.

Murray has rarely spoken about the massacre and did not want to be filmed talking about it.

But the documentary Andy Murray: Resurfacing includes a voice recording that the 2012 Olympic champion sent to director Olivia Cappuccini, who is the fiancee of Murray's brother-in-law, Scott Sears.

"You asked me a while ago why tennis was important to me," says Murray in the documentary, due to be released on Amazon on Friday.

"Obviously I had the thing that happened at Dunblane. I am sure for all the kids there it would be difficult for different reasons.

"The fact that we knew the guy (Hamilton), we went to his kids' club, he had been in our car, we had driven and dropped him off at train stations and things."

Family upheaval

Murray, who bursts into tears halfway through the recording, says the massacre precipitated a further traumatic sequence of events in his family.

"Within 12 months of that happening, our parents got divorced," he says.

"It was a difficult time that, for kids, to see that and not quite understand what is going on.

"And then six to 12 months after that, my brother (Jamie) moved away from home.

"He went away to train, to play tennis. We obviously used to do everything together. When he moved away that was also quite hard for me."

Murray admits that is when he began to suffer from anxiety but tennis has provided an escape for him.

"Around that time and after that, for a year or so, I had lots of anxiety but that came out when I was playing tennis," said Murray.

"When I was competing I would get really bad breathing problems.

"My feeling towards tennis is that it's an escape for me in some ways, because all of these things are stuff that I have bottled up. We don't talk about these things. They are not things that are discussed.

"The way that I am, on the tennis court, I show some positive things about my personality and I also show the bad things and things I really hate.

"Tennis allows me to be that child, that has all of these questions. That's why tennis is important to me."

The documentary follows the twotime Wimbledon champion as he attempts to recover from a hip injury that threatened to end his career.

Following surgery earlier in the year, he has rejoined the ATP singles circuit.

He won the European Open in Antwerp in October, his first title since 2017, and helped Britain reach the semifinals of last week's Davis Cup in Madrid.

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