Congratulations to Ernst van Dyk on being the recipient of the 2005 Laureus disabled sportsman award.
This is an accolade that many athletes will only ever dream about achieving. What makes Ernst’s success so significant is that it is awarded to the BEST from across the globe in each category. So many would have been nominated for their achievements but Ernst was the judge’s final choice. Let’s put this in perspective: the able bodied men’s winner was current tennis legend Roger Federer!
Staying on the topic of sport, the Supersport Wheelchair basketball series for 2006 has seen the second round come and go and the final four teams who go into the third round include the Altech - Namitech Bladerunners, The Discovery Eagles, The Visa Wings and The Anglogold – Ashanti Lions. Fasten your seats belts, its going to be a hell of a competition! Before the third round though, the National team lines up in Holland at the Gold Cup. Good luck to those selected!
So how about the FIFA World Cup? Having been glued to my TV for most of the first round clashes, I have to say that for me Argentina, Portugal and Ghana have impressed. Italy, France and USA have been disappointing and several of the minnows have put up displays that they can be proud of. I find myself intrigued by the slick and seemingly faultless organisation and whilst I remain an eternal optimist, I just can’t help wondering as to how we will perform as hosts in 2010? I don’t doubt our capability at all. I simply wonder when we will see any tangible evidence that says we are moving. Four years and counting, not much time!
Did you hear about the Seal that walked into a club? Don’t panic animal rights activists; I am talking about Seal the soul/rock fusion singer who was a part of a fund raising bash held at Sun City that I attended a few weeks ago. All funds went to the Tapologo Aids Hospice Centre in the North West. The extravaganza invited corporates to get involved by sponsoring various elements of the weekend that included golf days, a banquet come fashion show, art exhibitions and breakfasts. The public came out to rock to Seal and various other acts that performed at the Valley of the Waves and indeed the Superbowl which for my money remains the best entertainment venue in SA! Only problem I have is that the expenses incurred in staging the glittering occasion must have been enormous and I sometimes wonder if the return is worth the investment? Well done anyway to all the sponsors and supporters, the initiative would have raised in excess of R2 million for Tapologo!
Certainly a highlight of recent times was that in my new career capacity, I attended the Comrades Marathon and spent the day out on the gruelling course. The organisers of this mammoth event can be justly proud of their efforts. I met so many people and just marvelled at the vibe that so many people with a single-minded passion for running can create. It fascinated me that people of all shapes and sizes can be so determined and even more so, at the end of the event, whilst hobbling, crawling and dragging themselves through the pain barrier, many are committing to next year! What also dawned on me is just what an icon and hero my great friend Bruce Fordyce is. I wonder, how many real icons of their respective sports still receive the adulation that Bruce does? He handles it so well and is an asset to both Comrades Marathon and South Africa! To have won the Comrades Marathon nine times in a row is surely one of the records that will never be beaten.
Lastly, I am really thrilled to have been able to entice Sasol into the fold and welcome them as a major partner of the Paralympic Team for Beijing 2008. They join the likes of DaimlerChrysler SA, Nedbank, Pick’nPay, South African Airways, Sun International, Telkom and Vodacom and I am sure will fit into the family of these great corporate sponsors.