On Monday night, he battled his way to win the U.S. Open championship and an Olympic gold medal in London. But 25-year-old British tennis ace Andy Murray would have achieved none of those things if he hadn’t survived a horrific mass school shooting 16 years ago.
The dour Scot was just eight when he managed to scurry away and hide from shooter Thomas Hamilton who walked into his primary school, guns blazing, killing 16 children aged five to six and one adult.
The March 1996 attack was one of the worst firearm incidents in UK history and it made Murray’s hometown of Dunblane synonymous with mass shootings, much like the Columbine high school massacre in the U.S.
Murray was walking towards the gym where the slaughter took place, but dove under a desk in his headmaster’s office when the shooting started.
The tennis player rarely talks about the incident, but in his autobiography Hitting Back, he said: “Some of my friends’ brothers and sisters were killed.
“I have only retained patchy impressions of that day, such as being in a classroom singing songs."
Hamilton’s motive has never been revealed and the gunman -- a former scout leader in the small town -– shot himself at the crime scene.
Chillingly, not only did Murray know the killer, his mother sometimes gave the local man rides in her car.
“The weirdest thing was that we knew the guy,” the tennis champ wrote. “He had been in my mum’s car. It’s obviously weird to think you had a murderer in your car, sitting next to your mum.
“That is probably another reason why I don’t want to look back at it.
“It is just so uncomfortable to think that it was someone we knew from the Boys Club...Then to find out he’s a murder was something my brain couldn’t cope with.”
“I could have been one of those children.”