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.
On the front garden of a house high on a hill overlooking JBay, a group of South African sporting icons looked down to the swell and cut of the sea, and smiled at the end of two days of an event that may just have been the most fun in sport.
The Oakley X-Over Challenge – a three-sport, two-day romp on bicycle, golf course and surfboard – had been a mad, tumbling, laughing, drinking maelstrom of fun.
Seth Hulley, \[johan.desmidt\]thesports marketing manager of Oakley South Africa and a former professional surfer, had seen it in the smiles of the 12 he had invited.
At the end of the 2010 World Cup, as the crowds found their way out of the cold of the Calabash, I bought two over-priced American beers in the marquee that was the stadium’s press centre and toasted the end of a tournament Africa may never see again in my lifetime. There was already talk of World Cup depression, the lost child feeling you have when the party is over but you are not done partying.
South Africans wanted that feeling to run forever. This young democracy needed the heroin spike of international acceptance that big sporting events bring. Phillip was gone and he’d only been here for a month. Bastard. You get used to the anti-climatic feeling at the end of tournaments as a sports writer. The comedown is always a steep fall, a mixture of relief and sadness at the end having arrived. Big tournaments are a buzz to report on. The day after the final day is always a strange one. What’s next? There’s always something next. You hope.