ITF - International Tennis Federation

09/04/2019 | News release | Archived content

Max Mirnyi: My Olympic memory

The closest I had come to a medal was the very first one I played in Sydney. It felt like at the second, third and fourth Olympics I was farther away from those medal rounds. Finally, with the addition of the mixed [in 2012] there was a little bit of hope.

I was No. 1 in the world at the time with Daniel Nestor, winning French Opens back-to-back, and Victoria Azarenka was also No. 1 in the world at the time. We both had a lot of things going for us and it was probably now or never. I was already 35, I didn't know how much longer I'd be playing, whether I would be in this situation now.

The reality is that things change quickly; the rankings, the other competition comes along, and before you know it, it's tough to be at the top of the game and qualify for these tough events. It was a great sort of statement towards the end of my career that will stay with me forever.

I'm proud of the achievement and happy I was able to be on the winning team with Victoria and to introduce the mixed doubles discipline back into the Olympics. We beat some valued opponents, and everybody wanted to win that medal.

You know, it's funny. Guys in the locker room sometimes joke around and say you're the mixed doubles gold medallist. But there were 16 teams that wanted it badly and amongst those we were the ones to be on top. We share it with our fans from Belarus, our sporting legends, and on the same court. It was a tremendous feeling. I don't know if I can put it in perspective of other wins and achievements over my whole career.

It was an incredible feeling being on the podium. I suppose the fact that it was on Centre Court at Wimbledon adds a little more to it. We were in a group with Great Britain being the silver medallists and the USA winning bronze, and here we are, a small, proud country of Belarus getting a gold. It was a very proud moment of my life and my sporting career, and I'm sure something that my kids will remember me for, winning that gold medal.

There was a welcoming parade at the national airport after the Olympics but I was not part of it because straight after I had a commitment with Daniel, who was waiting for me in Toronto. And the first message I get from him was funny: 'Hey, good job gold medallist. Now get your ass over here.' So I watched it on TV and my father and my family walked with the gold medal. My little one had the gold medal around his neck and he was riding on the bus and people were waving.

Obviously now watching some of the videos from the Olympics is so powerful, especially to my family and friends. Back home the family was just screaming and cheering and shouting, and giving every cell of energy they can for us to win. I play so many tournaments, win some, lose some, and I come back and if I win, I put a trophy on the shelf. This time there was no trophy; there was a medal for something that was broadcast worldwide.