2015 has been an eventful year. A lot of the great things in South Africa are overshadowed by some silly actions and, even worse, some silly speeches by people with very selfish agendas. Sport, however has the ability to unite people and we need more unity and therefore more sport. I say bring it on. Below are my 5 highlights of 2015.
It would be easy to add events only witnessed on television but then the atmosphere wouldn’t have influenced my experience and therefore to make my list I had to attend the event in person and witness the action live.
5. Jackal Creek Trail Run
A mere 4km. A beautiful venue for golf, a beautiful location to live no doubt and at night, on a warm highveld summer evening, a great place for a trail run. The organisers are on to something good here. The evening starts with registration which is quick and painless, especially if you have purchased early bird tickets online (R50). Tickets on the night are R75 which includes a tag for your personal time, a medal for finishing, a bucketload of replenishing energy drinks and above all else, a sense of achievement, particularly when you beat a previous best. There’s a bit of a warm-up stretch, some dancing and a lot of fun, before and after the run with music blaring out onto the course. If 4km sounds too easy for you, sign up for the 8km run. We published a little piece on the last run, Running with the Jackals.
4. Kimberley Diamond Cup
The World Championship of Skating in Kimberley. Every year the world’s best skaters fly in from around the world to participate in our own back yard at the KDC. Skating isn’t as big in SA as it is in America, Europe and even South America. We have some great talent though and with our weather and lack of transport options, possibly the board should be more popular? Regardless, this event showcases the best of the best in street skating and my personal favourite, vert. I spent a lot more time at the street arena in 2015 compared to 2014 and learned a lot about the skills these guys and girls bring to the park. You start to understand the skill when you know what to look for. I couldn’t even stand on a skateboard as a youngster, let alone flip it, jump with it or stay upright. Check what we published on the KDC earlier this year.
3. Nashua Titans – Sunfoil Dolphins T20 RAM SLAM Final
The Final of the RAM SLAM T20 series took place at Supersport Park in Centurion on December 12. There was enormous hype around Kevin Peterson who had literally batted the Dolphins into the final with some immense power hitting and big scores in the previous matches. Dwayne Bravo, another international player imported by the Dolphins, was the other man to watch going into the final. The pressure on these two to bring the trophy home must’ve been unbelievable and in the end, just a little too much as KP fell early without making any real impression on the final. The Titans, at home for the final, were magnificent. They applied pressure with the ball and thrilled the large crowd with lots of runs via the bat of Mangaliso Mosehle.
2. South Africa – New Zealand T20
The 2nd match in the T20 series at Supersport Park between NZ and SA. Unfortunately SA were not the winners on the day but it was the first time I got to see a certain Kagiso Rabada in action and it was enjoyable to see the next big thing in SA cricket live. He took 3 for 30 in his 4 overs and looks seriously good. Martin Guptil was the hero on the day with a fine 60 from 35 balls to set the platform from which the NZ bowlers could attack. David Miller and Farhaan Behardien were the pick of the batsmen on the day. A great atmosphere, a great venue and we sat in the CSA suite, which makes the experience even better.
1. South Africa – Egypt
The men’s final of the Greenfields African Championship at the Randburg Astro.
The night before the South Africa team were informed that no matter what the result, they would not be travelling to the 2016 Olympics. Administrators had signed a document at least 6 months previously that pretty much relinquished any opportunity they had to go to Rio next year even if they won the African qualification tournament.
Standing in the media section watching the warm-up prior to the match it was obvious that heads had dropped with the news. The Egyptians by contrast were up-beat. They probably had heard the news too. They dominated the early exchanges and even took the lead. It looked like there was no fight in the SA team, bickering with the referee and lack of cohesion seemed to dog the boys in the first half.
The half-time water-break was probably accompanied by harsh words and a message along the lines of “we’ll fight them on the beaches” from the coaches. The team raised their game, found that fighting spirit SA teams are so well known for and put in a shift deserving of being crowned African Champions. The deficit was overturned twice and boys fought to the final whistle eventually running out 4-2 winners. A great game. A great fight-back. A huge effort by the men in green and gold and all the supporters who would later rally behind them on social media in vain to overturn the injustice of Africa not having a hockey representative.
That’s the top five sporting events I attended this year. I hope you enjoyed this short trip down memory lane and let’s meet again at a sporting venue in 2016!