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Triumph and tragedy: The top South African sporting moments of 2021

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Swimming - Women's 200m Breaststroke - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo Aquatics Centre - Tokyo, Japan - July 30, 2021. Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa celebrates with her gold medal REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Swimming - Women's 200m Breaststroke - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo Aquatics Centre - Tokyo, Japan - July 30, 2021. Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa celebrates with her gold medal REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Published Dec 31, 2021


Johannesburg - There were many ups and downs in 2021, but South Africans have an unwavering passion for sport.

And as the year draws to a close, the Saturday Star looks back at the most iconic and memorable South African sporting moments.

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We also take a look at some controversial sporting moments of the year.

Tatjana Schoenmaker makes history at the Tokyo Olympics

No South African achieved more in sport this year than swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker, who scooped two of the country’s three Olympic medals at the Tokyo Games.

After taking the 100m breaststroke silver, Schoenmaker landed the 200m breaststroke gold in a 2 min 18.95 sec world record.

She became the first South African female in 25 years, after Penny Heyns, to win Olympic gold in swimming.

She also became the first South African in 22 years to break a world record.

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U.S. Courtney Conlogue surfs to win the final of the World Surf League (WSL) Rio Pro championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Conlogue defeated South Africa's Bianca Buitendag to win the championship. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Bianca Buitendag becomes SA’s first Olympic surfing medallist

Bianca Buitendag, who hails from the sleepy city of George, stunned the world earlier this year as she scooped a silver medal in surfing at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 27-year-old Victoria Bay local felled the third and second seeds on her way to the final, where she was downed by No. 1 Carissa Moore of the US, who created magic on typhoon-driven waves at Tsurigasaki beach.

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Buitendag retired from surfing shortly after her magical stint in Tokyo.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL. 11 September 2016. South Africa's Ntando Mahlangu won a silver medal in the 200m at the Olympic Stadium at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro today. Copyright picture by WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN / SASPA

Ntando Mahlangu shines at the Paralympics

Nineteen-year-old Ntando Mahlangu was the star of South Africa’s Paralympic team after winning two gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympics.

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He won the gold medal in both the men’s long jump T63 and men’s 200m T61 events at the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Sundowns Ladies make history by winning the first CAF Women’s Champions League title

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies made African history in November by becoming the winners of the first CAF Women’s Champions League after beating Ghanaian side Hasaacas Ladies 2-0 in Cairo.

Sundowns Ladies’ victory means the Chloorkop club joins Spanish side Barcelona as the only football clubs to win the men’s and women’s Champions League titles on their respective continents.

Goals by Chuene Morifi and Andisiwe Mgcoyi ensured victory for the South Africans, who exacted revenge for their men’s national team Bafana Bafana’s controversial loss to Ghana.

South Africa - Cape Town -24 July 2021- Cheslin Kolbe of the Springboks challenged Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland of the British & Irish Lions for an aerial ball ,during their first British & Lions Tour Test game at the Cape Town stadium.This game has no spectators because of the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown in South Africa.Photograph :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Springboks claim series win over British and Irish Lions

Morné Steyn kicked a match-winning penalty goal two minutes from time to earn the Springboks a 19-16 win over the British and Irish Lions in the third and decisive final Test at Cape Town Stadium, to give the Boks a 2-1 series victory over their British rivals

The visitors kicked off their tour to South Africa in magnificent fashion, producing a stunning second-half comeback to beat the Springboks 22-17 in the Series-opener at Cape Town Stadium, in August this year.

However, that wouldn’t prove to be enough as the Springboks went on to record a well-deserved victory over the British and Irish Lions in the second test, winning 27-9 to set up a mouthwatering finale.

Kgothatso KG Montjane, SAs number one womens wheelchair tennis player. File picture

KG Montjane makes history at Wimbledon

Tennis star KG Montjane made history at Wimbledon earlier this year by becoming the first black South African woman to reach a singles final and back-to-back finals in a Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old faced off against Dutch ace Diede de Groot in the Wimbledon singles final, where she eventually lost, while Montjane and her partner Lucy Shuker battled in the women’s doubles wheelchair final where they lost in straight sets.

While she may have fallen at the final hurdle in both of her finals, she received widespread praise with even President Cyril Ramaphosa heaping praise on her.

Cape Town. 160416. The Mashup X Hiperdelic were out in Bellville this weekend bringing some of Cape Town’s greatest talent. They teamed up with the greater Tygerberg partnership who put together a pop-up skate park. Jean-marc Johannes, left and Allan Adams tested their skills at the park. Picture Leon Lestrade.

Cape Town pro-skater smashes Guinness World Record

Pro skater Jean-marc Johannes clinched his seventh Guinness World Record, with 18 big spins in one minute – breaking the previous record of 12 held by American Rob Dyrdek since 2007.

Jean-marc, 29, from Athlone in Cape Town, smashed his latest record at Cape Town Stadium on April 6.

Kaizer Chiefs reach the CAF Champions League finals

Kaizer Chiefs’ fairytale CAF Champions League run came to an abrupt end when Egyptian side Al Ahly ran out deserving 3-0 winners in the final at the Complexe Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.

The match may have been over as a contest at half-time after Champions League final debutants Chiefs were reduced to 10 men.

Once Al Ahly scored the opener, Chiefs’ hopes of mounting even token resistance disappeared into Casablanca’s night air.

The outcome meant that Al Ahly, coached by South African Pitso Mosimane, has now won 10 Champions League titles in 15 final appearances.

Chiefs, on the other hand, had never before advanced beyond the preliminary rounds in their 51-year history.

Bafana Bafana’s World Cup hopes controversially dashed

Bafana Bafana were knocked out of the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers following a 1-0 away loss to Ghana.

Ghana’s win did not come without controversy, however, with Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye awarding a dubious penalty to the Black Stars.

It was a cagey affair for the most part between the two sides, with Ghana enjoying their home advantage by form of greater possession and physical dominance.

The South African Football Association lodged a protest to global federation FIFA, alleging that there was match manipulation in the encounter, however, Fifa rebuffed their appeal.

Cricket - Australia v South Africa - Third Test cricket match - Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia - 27/11/16. South Africa's Quinton de Kock walks off the field after being dismissed during the fourth day of the Third Test cricket match in Adelaide. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Quinton de Kock refuses to take the knee

The 28-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman declared himself unavailable for a T20 World Cup clash against the West Indies in Dubai, with skipper Temba Bavuma confirming at the toss that the decision was a result of “personal reasons”.

The 28-year-old’s shock decision came just hours after Cricket South Africa (CSA) ordered all players at the tournament to take part in the anti-racism gesture.

CSA later revealed that it was De Kock’s personal decision not to take the knee ahead of the clash against the West Indies.

De Kock later apologised to his teammates and to supporters, saying he understood the importance of standing against racism and the responsibility of the players setting an example.

Patrice Motsepe elected president of CAF

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe was elected as the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at the federation's general assembly in Rabat, Morocco earlier this year.

He's the first South African to be elected to the position.

The official confirmation came after all three of Motsepe’s rivals pulled out of the race in order to take on vice-presidential roles.

Motsepe is the owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, the most successful football club in South Africa. The club also won the CAF Champions League in 2016.

993 16.08.2015 Bloemfontein Celtic FC fans sings and dance after 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs at theMTN 8 semi final, first leg at Free State stadium on Sunday 16, yesterday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

End of an era for Bloemfontein Celtic

Controversial KwaZulu-Natal business-person Shauwn Mkhize bought football club Bloemfontein Celtic this year, renamed it Royal AM and relocated the club to Durban, where its matches have taken place this season

The sale left its legions of followers in despair and crying foul over this move, which seemingly came out of the blue.

The club is currently doing a good job in the PSL and is in 7th place on the log under their controversial owner.

The Saturday Star