One of the very first players to step into our studio at the Beijing Open back in October was Canadian hopeful Rebecca Marino, who just had to end up in our Top 5 best photoshoots for the Olympic Book.
Yet sadly, having reached the echelons of her career in 2011, it was necessary for her to take some timeout in 2012, which meant her chances of making her first Olympic Games were put on hold. For it to happen in an Olympic year is a devastating blow for Rebecca, but she remains optimistic about Rio in 2016 and is due to return to the courts sometime this year.
It was always amusing to see how players reacted when they saw their childhood photo for the first time, and of course, the more sweet or embarrassing the photo, the better. So it was a no-brainer that Rebecca was going to have fun with hers, at the very least for that iconic hairstyle and quite possibly the most perfect display of a tennis court tantrum.
Not sure she was thanking her parents Joe and Catherine for letting us get our hands on those photos, but I most definitely was, because everyone - photographers, players, the book designers - picked her shoot as their favourite.
It’s a shame we won’t see Rebecca in the final version of the book, but her photoshoot was so effortless and entertaining, we just had to show the end result here. Thanks Rebecca!
As we have done with all the players featured in the book, we also asked Rebecca who her inspiration was from the world of sport when she was growing up. It just so happens that her uncle, George Hungerford, was a gold medallist at 1964 Tokyo in rowing – and she was quick to single him out.
So we immediately contacted George and he wrote this very special message to his niece:
I am honoured that you consider me one of your “heroes”. I hope that your Olympic experiences in London 2012 will be as memorable to you as mine were to me. Little did I know when I visited you in Toronto as a brand new baby that you would have the same opportunity as I to did to make Canada’s Olympic Team at the same age as I was representing Canada in rowing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games! Perhaps we both share the same stubborn determined Hungerford genes.
The Olympic experience is nothing like anything else you will ever have – it remains one of my most treasured memories. You have come a long way from the little 4-year old learning to play tennis on your grandmother’s backyard tennis court. Yes you have already had success but your journey is really just beginning as you have grown and matured into the beautiful, talented, outstanding athlete and person you are today.
Remember to enjoy yourself and make the most of every second of the Olympic Games from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. Success is not measured only by medals but by knowing in your heart you have done your best and enjoyed the Olympic experience to the fullest.
Good luck. You are “my hero”.
You can find other messages from some of the world’s biggest sporting heroes inside Aspire, Inspire, the ITF Olympic Book, which will be published in late June. Keep checking 2012.itftennis.com for details on how you can win a copy of the book.