Trawling the internet for something refreshingly fresh in sport, I came across two stories that grabbed my attention in the past few days.

They pertain to two elite sportswomen in New Zealand, both 30 years old and supposedly sharing defining moments of their luminous lives via social media.

Enter Silver Ferns vice-captain Katrina Grant, who reportedly declared on Tuesday last week that tying the knot with Joel Rore in Wellington, where she is based, was "hands down" the best day of her life. It came with a glossy magazine endorsement.

Now juxtapose someone exchanging the black dress for a frilly white one with Marina Erakovic posting video footage which concludes to the tune of NSync's Bye, Bye, Bye in the background.


Erakovic mingled old-fashioned placards with a digital social media platform to disseminate the news of her departure from the women's international tennis pro circuit.

"Hey, I have a big announcement to make. I am not getting married or pregnant," she reveals, figuratively wiping sweat off her forehead in silent-movie style before ducking under a tennis racquet missile and jogging off slow motion towards a typical Kiwi beachfront location beckoning in the background amid snippets of news.

Creatively, Erakovic had announced her retirement, 13 months after her last match as a professional player, finally succumbing to a prolonged back injury.

Without doubt Grant and Erakovic are entering new chapters of their lives, which will, in some respects, prepare them for switching back into a "normal", or some may call mundane, state of existence.

That transition will determine how well the pair will adapt to the demands of a daily routine of the masses, following an episode of their lives reserved for a privileged few.

Grant, also a Central Pulse defender, and Rore, who operates a family helicopter business in Rotorua, got engaged at the majestic Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa near Nadi, Fiji, in April this year not long after the Silver Ferns' unceremonious exit from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games without any bling.

As then captain, she had shed tears on the netball court soon after the loss to England when TV One sport presenter Jenny-May Clarkson had cross examined her on whether the Ferns had lost pride in the black dress, much to the ire of some fans on social media.

By August, Grant had declared she was "totally fine" with relinquishing her hold on the mantle of captaincy, not long after then coach Janine Southby had walked the plank.


"I'm all about the growth of others and moving forward and just wanting to be the best for that black dress," said the 100-plus test netballer whose chiselled physique is visually the epitome of fitness.

Former Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant rides the emotional roller coaster after the loss to England during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. Photo/NZME
Former Silver Ferns captain Katrina Grant rides the emotional roller coaster after the loss to England during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. Photo/NZME

With such tumultuous build up this year, some will draw the conclusion that Grant is using marriage and, possibly, impending motherhood as an escape clause from an often testy netball cauldron, where emotional outbursts can be perceived as lacking mental fortitude.

Others may see Mrs Rore's stance as a mature and timely distraction to remind herself, as well as aspiring star-struck youngsters, there is life after sport.

Perhaps Erakovic captures the very essence of sport, how to handle it and how to exit it with aplomb.

Unlike Grant, who carved a niche in a much-publicised and government-funded No 1 female code in the country, the tennis ace's crusade must have been extremely lonely at times although it was equally rewarding in her personal development.

"Playing in 53 countries and visiting countless cities as the lone Kiwi tennis player has not been easy but it has meant that I have had the fortune of making lifelong friends from every corner of the earth," she said. "This has truly been an incredible experience. In sport as in life, nothing is ever a smooth ride."



Born in Split, Croatia, she emigrated to New Zealand at 6 with her family because of the political upheaval in the former Yugoslavia.

For someone who once attained a singles ranking of 39 in the world in 2012 and was 25th in doubles, Erakovic eventually listened to her body when considering a career out of a suitcase abroad.

What resonates with me is the jocular vein in which she has taken many things in her stride.

Her penchant for music is well known but a realistic Erakovic has kept a university degree in economics simmering on the backburner, which she hopes to complete next year in Auckland.

That is not to say she probably hasn't had moments in her career, especially as a budding professional, when she would have rolled into an emotional cocoon wondering what all the hoopla was about in elite sport.


It's a great lesson for teenagers embarking on a professional sporting career to be wary of putting all their eggs in one basket.

At a time when a group of principals pushes its own agenda in high school rugby it's okay to look after No 1 because sport is a career, not just a recess to break the monotony of laptops and science laboratories.

However, akin to Erakovic, youngsters need the support, guidance and constant reassurance of family and friends as well as a healthy dose of realism.

Sport is ultimately a seasonal window of opportunity with a relatively short shelf life so it's never easy to gamble one's life on a dream knowing things could turn pear shaped in the blink of an eye unless, of course, your parents are tycoons.

By the way, it's no different for blokes on the road. I have interviewed some in the past few years whose desire to stay with their partner and children eclipsed any childhood ambitions of fulfilling a sporting dream as a career.