What will Rio teach Andy Murray?

With one year to go, this is the stage of the Olympic cycle when the griping starts from outside the sport that tennis players shouldn't be Olympians.

But there is an easy counterargument to be made against those who are opposed to tennis being part of the program in Rio de Janeiro -- and at all future Games -- and it's the story of what winning a gold medal in London in 2012 did for Andy Murray.

It's unlikely any Olympian -- whether sprinter, synchronized swimmer, Greco-Roman wrestler, marathon runner, tennis player or any other athlete -- cared more about being on the podium than Murray. The gold that hung from his neck forever changed how Murray felt about himself and his position in the most competitive era in tennis history. Perhaps a few flecks of paint may today be peeling off the golden post box the Royal Mail created in his honor in Dunblane.

The effects of Murray's victory against Roger Federer at the All England Club, though, still have the same shine and gloss as they did three years ago. Murray isn't just an Olympian for 10 days every four years.

That gold medal goes everywhere with Murray, in spirit. It was that Olympic triumph that propelled Murray to all his future glories -- his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open, and then his first Wimbledon title the following summer. Before Murray could become Britain's first male Grand Slam singles champion since the 1930s, he first needed a reboot, and it was a reboot that came courtesy of the only amateur tournament he ever played.

Spool back a little to the first of Murray's two encounters with Federer at the All England Club in the summer of 2012: a defeat in the Wimbledon final -- an experience so upsetting that Murray broke down during an on-court interview. That was the fourth time Murray had finished as the runner-up at a Grand Slam.

Moving on from previous defeats in major finals had sometimes taken months rather than weeks. That summer, though, there was no time to dwell or mope, as Murray had the Olympics to prepare for. For the second time that summer, the tennis village set up camp in southwest London, but the sequel was very different from the original. There was to be no retelling of the same old Wimbledon narrative.

It was a re-imagined All England Club, with pink-purple backdrops on Centre Court and around the grounds, and it was also a relaunched, re-packaged Andy Murray, even down to his outfit. For the first time, Murray could compete on the grass in something other than whites. He was wearing the reds and blues of the British tennis outfit designed by Stella McCartney. The greatest change, though, was in his mental approach.

Against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, and then opposite Federer, Murray played without fear. Instead of self-doubt, he had purpose and poise, playing the kind of attacking tennis that his then-coach, Ivan Lendl, had always urged him to. This was Murray showing he couldn't just live with the best in the world, but beat them, too. An hour passed during the final without Federer, the greatest grass-court player in history, winning a game.

"There had been four weeks to the day between one of the hardest moments of my life and one of the most fulfilling," Murray wrote in his autobiography. "I was nervous before the final of the Olympics, but I don't remember feeling the same fear as before at Wimbledon."

Although realistically Murray didn't banish all negativity and self-doubt he had harbored throughout his career, there are two distinct phases in Murray's tennis journey: pre- and post-podium.

Don't underestimate the crowd's role in Murray's Olympics story. If Murray's tears after losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final had helped him reconnect with the British tennis public, then the Games were an opportunity for the two parties to show the relationship had been reset.

When Murray had played Federer for the Wimbledon title, a decent chunk of the Centre Court crowd -- perhaps even as many as half -- had been supporting the Swiss star. During the Olympic final, the galleries were overwhelmingly pro-Murray. That feeling of acceptance has stayed with Murray (who also won a silver medal in mixed doubles with Laura Robson).

Before playing in this week's hard-court tournament in Washington, Murray visited the White House, a reminder of the Scot's occasional excursions into politics, such as the occasion he tweeted his support for Scottish independence before the referendum. Despite those views, Murray takes great pride in representing Great Britain, as we have seen in Davis Cup play this year with Britain's run to the semifinals.

Each time Murray has played in the Olympics, he has learned much about himself. At the Beijing Games in 2008, he didn't prepare properly for the competition -- attending the opening ceremony took too much out of him, and he also found that he lost some muscle during his time in China -- and the result was a first-round loss. That tournament showed Murray the importance of getting his physical preparation right. London was about the mental and psychological sides of tennis. What will Rio teach him?

One consequence of Murray's victory is that Federer will travel to Rio attempting to win the one big prize that still eludes him. While Federer won an Olympic gold medal in doubles with Stan Wawrinka in 2008, the 17-time Grand Slam champ will be energized in Brazil, likely his last opportunity to be the Olympic singles champion. Don't let anyone tell you modern tennis players don't care about the Games.