A voice from the afterlife made me think about the drawbacks of youth very recently. Which brings me to another hero to go with Rutherford and Matt Biondi. It's Andre Agassi, but not necessarily for reasons you may expect.
I played team tennis as a teenager - nothing special, just good enough to enjoy playing. But I hated my club for reasons that probably handcuff the British game to it's present day. Namely, you must wear white, children are to be seen and not heard and. most damning of all, it's not about the game, it's about meeting people and being social. I do think that sport is a great way to make friends, but in the end, people who love their sport just want to play.
Now imagine what an impact Agassi would have on headstrong fourteen year old faced with all that. The rebel with that hair, awful clothes and loud mouthed, crass objections to any authority at all. Brilliant. Not to mention scintillating tennis. Problem was he never won anything.
French Open final twice, US Open final once, he kept on losing at the final hurdle. Redemption came at Wimbledon in 1992 when he beat Goran Ivanesivic in 5 sets. True redemption would come later, but this moment was pivotal in proving to the world, and himself that he wasn't a choker.
They'd played four hard sets, Goran had blown him away in the last one and everyone thought he was about to choke again. Except for the man himself. He talked afterwords about feeling it was different this time, being able to tap into his ability, overflowing with it. He could feel his own strength, he knew what he could do and what it was for. Suddenly he wasn't afriad anymore.
The best server in the game kept thundering these bombs down, powerful enough to obliterate the hated Serbian army. Agassi kept with him and then pounced. Goran had no answer and that was when Agassi became a man. All the 'image is everything' stuff was pushed to one side, he had gone right out to the edges and found he could not only live there, he could push further. He started to grow up.
We all go through callow youth, thinking we can take on the world, knowing without a doubt that experience is nothing, we need to turn things upside down. Then comes the slow realisation that we're only at the beginning, there's so much we need to learn. It's quite a shock to realise you're not infallible, but in the end that only makes you stronger.
Agassi went on to win all the big tournaments, but even better, he grew old gracefully, with dignity and became the game's best loved player. He was still exciting, but working with Brad Gilbert in later years, and simply growing up, made him one of the most mature, human and kind people in sport.
Now a happy husband and father, he enjoyed his last years as a much loved veteran. He learned that you can overcome lengthening years with ferociously hard work, dedication and pure experience.
Few would have thought that loud mouthed lout would have become such a role model for all. For me that was his real victory. Maybe it's something the young cannot be taught, maybe you have to learn the hard way. But Agassi showed that the true beginning of knowledge is understanding how little you know.
He is also a famous, successful bald man - so double points for that.