vapor in the wind

Professional sport. The life of a chosen few. A glorified manor that a selected need not magazine pictures, blogs or someone’s mother to get the idea, but live to tell many tales of its existence. That God-given, though not always driven, rare talent that cannot be confused with ‘luck’ nor could it be pinned down to just ‘hard-work’.

Often a sanctuary of success, a dream come true stature. The real ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise, the nature of rock and roll. The life. The tragedy. The tragedy of a flower quickly fading; here today and gone tomorrow.

Only just over a year Tiger Woods was the number golfer. 2008 Olympics Michael Phelps was the pot-head hailed king of the pool. The fall off Zinedine zidane. Troublesome Joost van der Westhuizen, Herschelle Gibbs…and and…


Monday July 4th, while many Americans caused havoc (much like we South Africans do on December 31st) ATP tennis rankings were released and confirmed Novak Djokovic as the new world number one. After the Serb’s 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon finale.

No surprise (of course), considering he was already guaranteed to move ahead of the Spaniard following his semi-final defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

What this means though is that Nadal’s 56-week rein since he took over from Roger Federer in June last year is over and now the 2008 and 2010 champ is merely a forgettable number two.

Yeah sure he vows to hit back and probably will, but that’s a story for another day. What is quite unnerving is Serena Williams’ new standings. From world number one to 175th – her lowest position since 1997 – in just under two years. Yeah sure injury and illness kept her off court for a year, but slumping 150 places is something else altogether.

Once again I find myself at the receiving end of all that can be ‘fun-cruelty’ because of my affiliations. I don’t need to tell you that my rugby team of choice is the Vodacom Blue Bulls and their premature exit in this year’s Super Rugby meant one thing; find a deep hole and crawl into it – FAST.

I will fully admit, though I had hoped, I didn’t see the Bulls retaining the title this year. I sat at a cold Coca-Cola Park stadium to witness their kick-off to the Super Rugby campaign. A 24-5 lead into the second-half had me and many in Bulls replicas fooled into a coy that perhaps the new format will take nothing away from the two-year champions.

The 24-20 victory aroused many jitters… with that said the format, undesirable to many (count me in) did in fact save the Pretoria giants from one of the most atrocious season destined.

And a (less) memorable end for the brave Crusaders’ 100,000km journey. Receiving the raw end of the stick from kick-off, its a wonder this side made it this far. Devastation of the worst kind at home could leave any team disoriented.

However, Todd Blackadder’s men took the entire season with stride that had many pinning them down as ‘the team’ of the season. Making the 2011 finale one of fairytales.

Only four years ago the men from Queensland were the ‘minnows’ of Super Rugby. Who can forget the 92-3 whipping in 2007 at the hands of the Bulls? Now there’s an irony – this Reds team taking the reins from that very same Pretoria outfit. And in the process wreck the Crusaders’ hopes of an eighth Super Rugby title, in a finish that is only predicted in a book of fairytales.

Sure the Quade Cooper versus Dan Carter contest is always a ticket seller. Carter‘s drops goal skills taking on the lethal tactical kicking of the fullback will be mouth-watering any day. Some blogger (whose name and page escapes me) summed it up nicely:

“The Crusaders looked knackered and played like it”.

Classy and rugby genius he remains, but the All Blacks pivot lost this battle, as Cooper, with a little help from the other Wallaby – Will Genia – closed the book with a much anticipated ‘happily ever after’.

Well done Reds. Take a bow Crusaders. Reaching the final under such conditions is commendable.

With so much more sport coming up in the next few months – the Currie Cup, Tri-nations, World Cup and the return of the soccer season, yeah I’ll even pay attention to the US Open – I am excited to see what this season will unfold for these men and women in tracksuits.

Currie Cup picks:
Game 1: Lions v Pumas: Lions by 10

Game 2: Western Province v Griquas: Western Province by 13

Game 3: Cheetahs v Leopards: Cheetahs by 9

Game 4: Sharks v Blue Bulls: Blue Bulls by 5

Whats yours ?

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