sa sports awards… rethink

The Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr. Fikile Mbalula, officially announced the nominees for the 2013 SA Sports Awards. They were selected by an adjudication panel comprising of sporting personalities, organisations and teams. Each federation submitted their preferred candidates, and the panel was tasked to narrowing it down to only three candidates per category. Continue reading

from wade paton’ stick

One of the (many) things that I pride myself on is the ability to adjust: very few (to zero) environments exist where I wouldn’t be able to survive or have a good time. And never has a statement rung more true than when it comes to sports.

I’ve always been that (random) girl who’d fill-up the stands, well, because I can, and it costs very little in return for the greatest of rewards. If an activity is regarded as “sport”, then chances are I’ll watch it.

Okay, this is not entirely true. In high school, my uncle tried (to no avail), to convince me that boxing is ‘cool’. (I’m from the Eastern Cape, this is a prerequisite). He died trying!

And don’t get me started on the mate who regards Chess as a sport…my response is always the same, “Do they know what an ice-bath is!?” (Either way, they will soon become acquainted at the mention of the Ch….game)

As you can imagine, generally, it doesn’t take that much convincing to get me to a stadium, field or court. So when I received an invitation to go and see SA Hockey in the Champions Challenge tournament, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve (and I don’t even like Christmas).

But I digress…

As you may remember from this post, it didn’t go too well. I went to see the Bronze medal match and while signing my shirt, I got to chat to some of the players.

They were very cheerful about winning the bronze, but couldn’t hide the sadness of what coming third meant. These players included one Wade Paton, a trusted midfielder, who gradually agreed to be a guest on in(TRACK)suits this week. He shares the loss from a player’s perspective.

wade bro, what did mom say about doing this in public

Wade says:

“Although we lost out on our Olympic Spot, we have gained a tremendous amount as a team. Not many teams would have been able to pick themselves up for a third / fourth play-off like the SA Hockey lads did.

Being dealt the blow of withdrawing from the Olympic Games on the Saturday was disheartening, yet we came out with one of our best performances against a highly ranked Argentinian side the very next day to clinch the bronze medal.

We played some really attractive hockey at times during the tournament. And for the first time in many a year our games were broadcast live on SuperSport, this was encouraging for us! Finally many people, who have never seen us, were able to see why we do what we do. Hopefully we have made a few people sit up and take notice of our professional outfit.

The loss of that Olympic spot has added fuel on the fire for an extremely determined group of people, who have a dream of going to the Olympic Games. We will stop at nothing to get to the London Olympics. We have put in the extra yards both on and off the field and we have no doubt in our minds that come the last qualifying tournament in Japan, we will be as ready as we can possibly be.

There are a few tough teams at the tournament, including Japan and China. We have however had some good results against both these teams in recent history; this reason will be an extra mental boost. However there’ll be the unknown factor, presented by teams such as Cuba, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we have not faced these outfits, therefore we will have to do a very detailed analysis to make sure that we are not faced with any surprises, but that works both ways.

As a team we believe wholeheartedly that we deserve to be at the London Olympics. Our approach to the qualifying tournament (in Japan) will not be one which is driven by the pressure of qualification but rather driven by the craving for success.

Fulfilling a childhood dream for each one of us in the squad one we are determined to make a reality!”

All I can say to Wade and his team is this: SA Hockey men – I have seen you play: you’ve got the skill, drive and most importantly, the motivation. I believe in your ability as individuals and a team that these essential qualities will take you through to achieving your Olympic dream.”

My very best wishes to all of you!

Follow Wade on on Twitter

man…but that hurts

Someone once told me that I use the word ‘excruciating’ way too much. Of course I protested until I realized I was in fact going to use it here. Really though, that is not just a word I use lightly, but simply because it paints a picture not enough paint brushes could ever portray.

One of my many moms (don’t ask) often say it’s because I feel things way too deep – open for debate, however, I will confess that when a man (or woman) in Green and Gold (or Liverpool and often Bulls) lose an all, but important game I weep with them. I remember this horrible feeling twice this year alone; the time Graeme Smith side lost a unlosable quarter-finals to Black Caps in India; when an over-confident Bok side gave a World-Cup away. 2010 was no different.

I wept silly when Bafana Bafana lost to Uruguay in Loftus. Okay, no one really expected Carlos Santana’s boys to go past the South Americans. It was (however) the manner of that shattering night that out did me.

I am latent person, which means the water works doesn’t usually come until the next day, while everyone has moved on to the next, the sad news will sink in and all hell break loose.

gutted

That feeling would return once again. My first time watching Austin Smith and his side live diddn’t go as I had hoped. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t own a top that says ‘Team SA’, so going to support the other Proteas – Hockey – I knew I was not going to be completely satisfied with what I was wearing.

I am that person who will frown at you for showing up at a rugby match in your football replica (and vice-versa). Let me apologize now. Anyhow, as I was parking I saw little to nobody wearing what I had on (obviously these people know what a drag-flick is). Since it was fifteen minutes before kick-off, I had to stick it out.

So there in my Boks jersey I made my way to the box and by half-time I knew my heart will be doing one or two things. Fall into little pieces or jump outta my chest with pride. With 30 seconds left on the clock my little heart was doing the former. For my beloved have just lost – to India – one of the most important matches of their lives; an Olympic qualifier.

After putting together a title-winning first-half to lead the eight-time Olympic gold medalists 2-1 in the semifinals of the Champions Challenge, I haven’t got a cooking clue how the 10th ranked team came back to win it 4-2. In essence robbing South Africa the match they needed to book their spots to the 2012 Olympics.

It was painful to endure and after listening and watching a gutted Smith, I simply did what I usually do. What I did when John Smit lost his 100th test cap match. No, not rush home and write a blog about it, that comes after, but simply make a trip to MacDonald’s for a McFlurry. It changes nothing, but its awesome mixed with a couple of tears.

I haven’t cried yet, that will come tomorrow when I read all the reports of how this was SA’s match to win. How we dominated. When the stats shows we had it in the bag. That’s when it’ll all but sink in. That sickening feeling I will describe ‘excruciating’…

All is not lost for Gregg Clark’s brave SAffers though. Come April/May and they’ll be off to Japan for yet another chance to book those Olympics tickets. Nothing gets one fired up like a ‘should have been’. So this is me trying to look on the bright side and hoping this sad loss – though we wish differently – is all this young side need to ‘Moer Hulle’ in Japan

man to lead

Winning attitude from the drag-flick hero – Justin Reid-Ross. He tweeted “Thank you for all the amazing support. So proud to be South African. We’ll be charging for a medal tomorrow and we WILL get to London

All the best boytjies

an epic fail

If you were to ever raid my computer you’ll see that one of the pages frequently visited is Sport24. This is one of my favourite sites, for what I’d like to call ‘obvious’ reasons. You may differ, but that’s you. Sport24 and Guardian.co.uk (only they’re not big on Rugby which is a big problem…. for me anyway) – along with a few others –  are book-marked on every digital thing I own (well the ones that matter anyway).

Moving onto the reason for this post – which is probably not the best ‘come-back’ posts, but bear with me – I was doing my Sport24 ’rounds’ and stumbled upon this post:

Lost for words. A big shocker!

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 ?

deep dive into mark randall

deep dive into mark randall

Lights. Camera. Fireworks!

We have just closed the curtain on The 2010 Commonwealth Games. Athletes around the world have returned to their turfs, some with more endorsements deals than before while others wish their names were never uttered.

South Africa had an exceptional tournament, with 33 medals and earning the 5th spot on the medals table. SA’s greatest strength being the  pool, after some of our major athletes had to pull out due to injuries. in(TRACK)suit had the pleasure of getting a one-on-one with one of our stars: Mark Randall.

Currently a USA citizen, Randall is a 24 year-old Crimson Tide record holder in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyles, a four-year finalist in the distance events at the SEC Championships and a three-year scorer at the NCAA Championships. He also earned the Tide’s Mike Curington Most Valuable and Marshall Shoemaker Most Dedicated awards. (www.whoswhosa.co.za).

Our chat;

Firstly Mark, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these.  You were born and raised in the Eastern Cape, a Selborne College graduate. One can argue that Rugby and Cricket are the two codes highly popular in this province. Why Swimming?

Well, as I am sure you would have guessed I did initially play rugby and cricket growing up. My mother was a swimmer and she tried to get me involved in the sport. I initially hated the sport and in 1997 a new coach arrived at my swimming club, my mom took me along and he made me fall in love with the sport. I also think that I was lucky enough to have success right away when I started swimming.

Roland Schoeman and Ryk Neethling are the names hugely associated with South African swimming. Do you think Delhi has introduced a new generation of successful swimmers from SA? (Elaborate, mainly who? Why? and will these names live up to the standards created by Schoeman and Neethling)

I definitely agree that there were many breakthrough swims for a number of younger swimmers on the team in Delhi. I mean Chad Le Clos stole the show in Delhi and he definitely has bright future ahead of him. Gideon Louw had a great competition in the sprint events and another young guy Heerden Herman also had a great swim in the 1500 meter freestyle.

I really think that we have all areas covered in terms of swimming events, from sprints to distance events. The thing is there are also younger kids behind these guys who are waiting for their opportunity to shine, but I definitely believe that the foundation was laid by the likes of Ryk and Roland and the relay from 2004, they really helped raise the profile of the sport here in South Africa.

You have just returned from Dheli, Would you say SA had a successful campaign compared to previous tours? Or can we not compare?

I think the swimmers did a fantastic job in Delhi,  we won four more medals than what we did in Melbourne four years ago and our team was smaller this time around. In terms of comparing how we did, obviously we won more medals this time round, but given the fact that it was not the best of circumstances the team responded really well and did an outstanding job to rise to the occasion.

Are you suggesting the tournament was as ‘troubled’ as perceived?

The Games were not as bad as what people were making out before they had even begun. It could have been a lot worse, I never ever felt as if I was in any danger at any time. The pool where we swam was one of the best pools I have ever swum in. All in all I was very happy with my experience at the games. (Reports suggest

Athens 2004 did what for SA swimming? And for you personally.

Like I mentioned earlier, the results of the swimmers in Athens really helped raise the profile of swimming in South Africa, it showed people here and around the world that we as South Africans were capable of anything that we set our minds to and we could compete with anyone in the world. For me personally it showed that anything was possible, if you worked hard and set your mind to it you could do anything you wanted – the sky was the limit!


You were awarded a full scholarship to the US. Congratulations. Can you share what this meant for you as a young athlete from SA and specifically from the Eastern Cape?

It was a great honour and privilege for me. It meant that all the hard work and early mornings had paid off. In addition it gave me the opportunity to earn a degree and compete at a high level all at the same time. I was just proud to represent my country and province over there in the USA.

You have followed the path of African big names such as Darian Townsend and Kirsty Coventry, and went overseas. Would you say that’s a trend amongst swimmers or a necessity?

I think when it comes down to it, it’s all about what you think is going to be the best situation for you to perform and be at your best. Many swimmers have remained in South Africa and had tremendous success. An example of that would be Cameron Van Der Burgh. At the time it was the best move for me and I have not regretted it, it has been worth it every step of the way. In the end it is what you think is best for you. I do think it is an invaluable experience and if you immerse yourself fully in it you will reap the rewards.

Any plans of coming home? You must miss your family and friends.

Of course home will always be home, I do really miss my home and family. It was one of those sacrifices that I needed to make and they have supported me one hundred percent through the whole process. If a good opportunity were to present itself I would definitely consider coming back home.

You have had a successful career at such a young age. How has this affected your relationship with God (if at all)? How difficult is it to remain grounded in God’s grace with this success?

I am very grateful to God for everything that he has blessed me with, not just my swimming,. I count my blessings everyday and there have been times when I have had to call on God to help me stay grounded and humble no matter what.  If it were not for God I would not be where I am today and I would not have experienced everything that I have, I have Him to thank for everything.

Do you think it’s harder for someone in the spot light to maintain a relationship with God? How so?

Yes I think it can be. Life can become so hectic and we get caught up in everyday things. Sometimes we just need to take a moment and stop, take stoke of our lives and be thankful for what we have. What I have learnt is that things may change around us but the only consistent thing in our lives is God. He is always there for you no matter what and that is a great comfort.

Has the likes of Michael Phelps, Marion Jones and Tiger Woods, shaped the perception of athletes?

I think athletes are perceived in different ways from other people, and they get a certain status. I have not been in a situation where people have labeled better than someone else.  At the end of the day no matter who you are we are all just people.

What has their ‘fall from grace’ taught you as an athlete specifically as a Christian?

As a high profile athlete you are always in the public eye, so therefore you are always subject to public scrutiny.  I can understand being on your best behaviour all the time can be quite exhausting and as athletes they just want to be people. But they are also role models and people look up to them, so it’s a very fine line. I have always been taught to do my best in all areas but knowing that I have God there to guide me I have been very fortunate that I have not found myself in any of their situations.

SA has just hosted the biggest tournament in history; did you follow it at all? And who were you supporting  apart from Bafana Bafana.

I did follow the world cup, it was amazing to watch it on TV, the other country that I supported was the Netherlands, and they almost made it!

How has the WC change the world’s view of our country?

Everybody that I spoke to said that it was great event and I think it helped people change their minds and perceptions about South Africa. It showed that we were able to host events of this magnitude, without any major hiccups.

Thank you for you time Mark, my last question. We are in the semi-finals of the Currie Cup, will the Bulls take it, or do you reckon we will be crowning new Currie Cup Champs? If so, who do you see rising to the challenge?

Well I am sure that everyone would have liked to have seen a Bulls and Sharks final, I think that game is going to be even better than the final. I think that whoever wins out of that semi will go onto win the Currie Cup, although the Cheetahs could cause an upset and make it through to the final. I am hoping for a Shark win.

When many stars have fallen to the trap of self-gratification and self-praise, it is always great to see young role models in this industry and Mark Randall is exactly that. Someone we can all be proud of.

Deep Dive into success.

puzzle to complete

There’s a ‘legend’ that most insomniacs fuel all too well; marriages end, suicides committed, worst lyrics written (insert – Shakira – ‘Whenever, Wherever’ or Des’ree – ‘Life’) ,just about the most disgruntling contentions and ….well I’m blogging, surely it is true; ‘Nothing Good Happens After 2AM’. (Okay maybe that’s just a not-so-funny rendition of a ‘How I Met Your Mother’ episode).

Like it usually does, it started at a very odd hour, while few graced the rez cold tv room, heels across the corridors evidence to the tales of student life on a Saturday evening.

In the far away land of the English, a bunch of ‘ball pushers’ were sweating their pants off in anticipation, our ‘Blade Runner’ was breaking a WR, and Hants were gunning for gold.

Back home, John Mitchell’s boys claimed their first win in seven months, Bulls to suffer an unconventional Province beating. And elsewhere, Tiger’s slipping down leader-board and there’s me who had just woken up. Seriously, past the hour of 02:00.

Fully alert now I took to Twitter, the latest fiend (and so a ‘compatriot’ kindly shares) came across Lyndon Ferns. The name ‘sounds’ familiar I thought, checks bio and yep confirmed.

Then it dawned on me, there’s a puzzle I’ve neglected for years and the quest could wait no longer.

In 2004 SA stunned the world by winning the gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the Athens Olympics, beating big names to claim the ultimate prize for the rainbow nation. This honour served by Roland Schoeman, Ryk Neethling, Lyndon Ferns, and…and errr..?

Athens 2004 is a phenomenon any sport loving South African shall never forget. Whenever the words ‘sport’, ‘moments’, ‘great’, ‘SA’,’history’ are used in the same sentence Schoeman and his buddies smile their asses onto the picture, but somehow, it seems the “other guy’s” name just never gets the memo.

Okay, I might be a self confessed-sports fanatic, but I didn’t always pay much attention to swimming,  Give me a break its a ‘rich man’s sport’, so quit judging.

Anyway, thank God (it turns out, for some miracle) the ‘he is no fool than he who never asks'(or something like that. I was borderline ADD) proverb made its way to the left side of my brain and so, I invaded timelines in pursuit of redemption.

‘Ahhh, but you,you Twitter are the greatest of them all creatures’, I grinned – after being failed by the wonders of Google for BlackBerry – as one Lyndon Ferns rose to my aid (so did Ryk..half an hour later).

Forget my ‘Cows’ (as one Yanky pal refers to them) being tamed, Drogba’s hat-trick, Tiger’s disarray, Oz’s sheer stupendous, Neil Mac’s MOM, that was yesterday. Today, (insert- Liverpool shall reign!) greater than Invictus, marks the anniversary of one of those SA sporting moments.

Ferns, Neethling and Schoeman must’ve thought I ‘trespassed’ their twitter accounts simply to share the sentiments. For it is true six year ago, 15 August, SA’s sensational swimming quartet gave us something to be proud of – In gold.

But no, I simply had a puzzle to complete, and one Darian Townsend entered the board and fit perfectly… At 3 O’clock in the morning.

K8