Somewhere, in a drawer or on a hanger, I have a T-shirt that bears the autograph of the hardest man in the hardest professional sport. Jens Voigt put his scrawl on a T-shirt that bears the legend Cervelo, the name of the Canadian bike manufacturers who sponsored Team CSC at the time.
On India’s shortened tour of South Africa at the end of last year, a visiting journalist wasn’t shy about telling me how much disdain he had for the BCCI. They weren’t overly fond of the bullying and posturing of the executives, and were suspicious of their motives and dealings.
He took pride in keeping the BCCI as honest as he could. He had been called to one side during the tour by a BCCI employee and asked about a piece he had written on how South African cricket had been shabbily treated by the hacking of the series. There were others who did not follow his line. It was explained that while many of the other Indian cricket writers were not fans of the BCCI, they did not quite like the rest of the world slagging off their union – that was their job. They might be utter scoundrels, but they are our utter scoundrels.
At 6pm on Saturday, after the heavens opened and turned Loftus and the first Springbok match into a sodden Gomorrah of a mess that not even fire and brimstone could correct, a little African team made a big African dream come true for six Africans.
Sending out a press release to announce the first African team to take part in the Tour de France during a Bok match seemed strange timing. The naming of the nine men in the MTN-Qhubeka squad to take on the Vuelta a Espana, and the six Africans in particular, deserved a fanfare, a celebration and capital letters.
On Tuesday, a Robin Williams fan tweeted: “Sigh, I really wish Robin Williams had gone out and ridden his bike yesterday.” Cycling may not have saved Williams, but, then again, it may have given him pause to think and reason to carry on for another day.
Williams was a cyclist. It was, he tweeted, the thing he looked forward to the most. “My favourite thing to do is ride a bicycle. I ride road bikes. And for me, it’s mobile meditation. It is the closest you can get to flying.”
Jen Wilson settled in to watch the second half of South Africa’s semi-final against Australia in Glasgow yesterday with a beer made all that better tasting by the addition of international retirement.
Almost four years ago she was playing for South Africa in a semi-final in the Delhi Commonwealth Games. They lost that semi-final, against New Zealand, and then, heartbreakingly, the bronze medal match against England.