Politicians bring shame to South Africa, while athletes bring her honour

Tariq Khan | Nov 04, 2021
Unlike our political elite, South Africa’s professional athletes time and again remind us how success is possible against all odds.

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Politicians bring shame to South Africa, while athletes bring her honour

One uncomfortable truth about life in South Africa is that politicians do an outstanding job at embarrassing the citizens. Even though South Africa has some of the most resilient and hard-working people in the world, our political representatives at a national level are mired in numerous controversies. Whenever we feel low because of the poor leadership that our country experiences, we can rather reflect on what our sports heroes have achieved for the country. Let this be the reminder to be inspired, patriotic and committed to building a new South Africa with opportunities for everyone.  

  1. Wayde van Niekerk, a leading track and field sprinter

 Wayde van Niekerk grew up in Kraaifontein, Cape Town. As an infant, Van Niekerk was born prematurely and needed a blood transfusion in order to survive. The challenges he faced began at birth, but that did not stop him from persevering and accomplishing his goals in sport. In 2016, he qualified to represent South Africa at the Summer Olympics and went on to win a gold medal in the 400 metres, breaking the world record in the process.

Wayde van Niekerk. Image source available here.

  1. Siya Kolisi, Captain of the Springboks Rugby Team

Siya Kolisi grew up in Zwide, Ibhayi; a township outside of Port Elizabeth (now called Gqeberha). As he grew up, one of the struggles he went through included witnessing his mother being domestically abused. Later, he would also battle against alcoholism in his personal life. Despite those challenges, Kolisi beat the odds and became a professional rugby player, being picked for the national side, and being appointed Springbok captain. A crowning moment in his career as a sports leader was when he helped the Springboks to win the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

Siya Kolisi. Image source available here.

  1. Caster Semenya, winner of two Olympic Gold Medals

Caster Semenya is a South African athlete who has won gold medals at the World Championships and Olympics respectively. Throughout her career as an athlete, Caster has faced numerous challenges that tested her determination to compete in tournaments, including sex testing, aimed in determining whether she was “credible enough” to compete against other women. Even though she continues to face these challenges, she has represented our country admirably domestically and on international platforms, breaking records and winning medals.

Caster Semenya. Image source available here.

  1. Natalie du Toit, one of the world’s most impressive Paralympic swimmers

Natalie du Toit has participated in swimming competitions since she was 14 years old. In 2001, she experienced a personal tragedy: being in a car accident that resulted in one of her legs requiring amputation. After the accident, she continued pursuing her passion for swimming. This has led to her winning over ten gold medals in international athletics competitions.

Natalie du Toit. Image source available here.

South Africa can be proud of its athletes. While politicians are constantly dragging the country’s image through a swamp of controversy, the country’s athletes are competing on an international level, highlighting the potential of its citizens. Imagine how our country could compete internationally in business, education, and the public service if it was not for the impact of the corrupt and self-interested political elite. The lesson that we can draw from our athletes is that no matter what the challenges are, we should always aspire to persevere and achieve our goals.

 

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