Last week Malcolm Lange, South Africa’s most successful cyclist on the domestic circuit, issued a press release in which he said that his refusal to dope had curbed his life-long dream of competing in Europe. Robbie Hunter, South African’s most successful cyclist on the international circuit, including stage wins in each of the three Grand Tours, sent an open letter to Lange in response this weekend. Here it is in full:
The celebrations for Bafana’s second goal against Angola were celebrated in full-on, HD, stereo quadraphonic surround sound with a estimated 10 000 speakers on Oxford Road on Wednesday afternoon. On Radio 2000, which does not seem to take new breaks during football matches, Brian Mofokeng screamed even more incoherently than usual, shouted “Angola”, “Bafana” and “goal” in equal measures, leaving those driving to scream at and then along with him as they worked out that the national team had gone in front.
A full Putco bus driving south down Oxford Road past the Gautrain station almost lifted off its wheels in happiness as those listening on radios infected those without with the rare virus that is the Bafana goal celebration. It was the same all the way up Oxford. The Rosebank Mews Café and Pub was overflowing, fans crammed outside on the street as they tried to look in the door and windows to watch the Delirium of Durban. It was the resurrection of Bafana, a hint of what they might be if they just paid heed – as Mike Sharman of Retroviral so cleverly tweeted yesterday – the word according to the book of God-on Igesund.
Around the land, lo, the people did begin to believe. Even those who didn’t believe before. And this being South Africa, they naturally had to have a go at those who had not believed along with them, but had not believed in a way that was more believable than them. Fingers were pointed at “critics”, subtweets were fired off against those who had dared point out that Bafana were actually quite rubbish in the opening match. At the post-match press conference someone suggested to Igesund that the criticism of him was “unjustified”. Igesund’s reply: “I don’t think it was unjustified criticism. We hadn’t been scoring goals and that’s how people felt. As I said we just need to bounce back and these situations (criticism) make us stronger.”
On eNCA news, everyone interviewed said they had “always believed in them”. In Wednesday’s The Star, a letter writer from Sandton said Igesund does not like “star” players. He called for the return of the one-footed Teko Modise, perhaps the most over-rated player in South Africa. Instead, Igesund went for Dean Furman, a player for Oldham Athletic in England’s second division. Perhaps he had read Danie Craven’s belief that the Springbok team played better when they had a Jew and policeman in the side. Furman, born into a Jewish family in Cape Town, policed the Bafana midfield in Durban, bringing some semblance of calm after the jittery brainfart of the opening match.
There’s an intolerance to criticism in South Africa right now. Bafana are not above it, and Igesund is well aware of it. He is attempting to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. He is looking to create more cheers and celebrations down Oxford Road.
The volunteer in the mixed zone of the National Stadium (formerly known as Soccer City and FNB, occasionally called the Calabash) was sure who was to blame for the woeful display by Bafana Bafana against Cape Verde in the opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday night. “You can’t blame Gordon Igesund for this. Look at the players he has to work with. There’s no talent there.”
The security guard at the entrance to the parking at The Star’s building in Sauer Street was sure on whom to place the blame: “It’s Igesund. They must get rid of him. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Today, we should be mesmerised. Today, we should be surprised. Today, on the 18th day of 2013th year since a man took on the weight of the sins of the world – many of whom did not know they had sinned – and died for them, a man will confess to sins he knew were really, really bad.
Lance Armstrong will not die today. He lose some followers, but he’ll probably gain some new ones. He’ll tell Oprah Winfrey – or Doprah Win-free as she should be renamed for the duration of her two-part interview with Armstrong for her guest is now both – that he is sorry, that he stuffed up and he will look for absolution. His confession, he will hope, will be the resurrection of the Armstrong brand, his return to the grand society that has shunned him. It will be a greater comeback since, well, since his return from testicular cancer.
The ANC National Conference and the Momentum One-Day Cup final at the weekend had a lot in common. They rarely ran on time, rain interrupted play and there were no real winners. Except, as someone pointed out to me on Twitter yesterday morning, the Lions and Cobras shared the prize money.
That little line – mine not the follower on Twitter – was dreamed up in the wee hours yesterday morning, fuelled by the hallucination of insomnia and anxiety that if the world is to end today then there would be little point in writing this column, the latter of which is a thought some have made in the 12 years I have occupied this space on the inside back of your Friday copy of The Star. What if the world has ended? Well, the good news is that it did so just after payday. The bad news is that my last memory of Liverpool will be of the pasting they got from Aston Villa on Saturday. It will mean that the last sporting event I will have covered, the Momentum One-Day Cup, never really happened, and it took two days for it not to happen.
The end of the world today will leave me with so much to do and no time to do it in. I’ll never get to watch Heyneke Meyer develop his Springbok gameplan to a degree where the cheap shots and slurs on his ability and character will cease. Should there be no tomorrow, I’ll miss the frisson of excitement that Team MTN-Qhubeka are set to cause when they race in Europe this year. The dream and purpose behind the team has caught the imagination of race organisers. Results will not be easy to come by, they never are in a first year, but to have black Africans riding at the top level on a South African-sponsored team is sports development of the best kind.
The end of the world will mean little at the SABC as they seemingly do their best to avoid broadcasting any live sport at all. They are hooked on the cheap and meaningless thrills of soap operas and are bound to dry hump the leg of their political master before showing off the best of the best on television. No Test cricket, no Test rugby and some football. The end of the world can’t come soon enough for them.
The end of the world will mean that this, my last column for 2012, will never be read, the tears and jeers will disappear like a fart in a storm. With my luck, though, the world will not end today, and you’ll be reading this, thinking – he’s just written a year-end wrap, sung of his hopes and had a fat bitch in the hope that it will stretch to 470 words. And you know? You’d be right.