In 2018 we have witnessed some gutsy, great and inspirational performances. From Banyana Bananya, the Proteas, and Caster Semenya making history, to Siya Kolisi walking down the tunnel at a packed Ellis Park Stadium to lead the Springboks. We also witnessed Kevin Anderson reaching the Wimbledon final while Percy Tau, Kgothatso Montjane, and Snenhlanhla Shozi also had a stellar year.
Here are Tokelo Martin Mokhesi’s top 10 picks for the best South African sporting moments for the year 2018. These top 10 South African sporting moments are in no particular order:
Caster Semenya Unbeaten
Against all odds, Caster Semenya proved once again that she is one tough cookie. We saw this when she shrugged off the negatively about her physique when:
- the media asked her pressing personal questions
- other competitors complained about her having an unfair advantage over them
- the IAAF announced that they were introducing a rule that would see hyperandrogenism athletes such as Semenya take drugs to reduce their naturally high levels of testosterone.
In spite of the negative and discouraging attention around her, Semenya kept on excelling on the track. She broke every South African athletics record in 2018 and was unbeaten over 800m. She emerged African champion, Diamond League champion, Continental Cup over 800m, and Commonwealth Games champion over 1,500m and 800m.
Banyana Banyana Fulfilled a Dream
The South African football women team, Banyana Banyana, led by head coach Desiree Ellis, embarked on a trip to Ghana to compete in the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCN). Their main goal was to finish the tournament in the top three to fulfil their dream of playing in the global showpiece.
Banyana made history when they qualified for the Fifa Women World Cup (to be held in France in 2019) for the first time ever beating Mali 2-0 in the Semi-finals of the Africa Women Cup of Nations. Banyana faced Nigeria, the best team in Africa, twice in the tournament and managed to beat them 1-0 and play to a goal-less draw in the final only to lose in the penalty shootout.
Proteas Historic Win Overshadowed by Scandal
The Proteas started their summer with a hard-fought 2-1 test series win over a spirited Indian side. Despite the good cricket that was on display, the series will probably be remembered for the Bidvest Wanderers wicket that was a nightmare for batsmen in the third test. The pitch was not well prepared and the encounter was nearly called off.
It was drama on and off the pitch during the Australian tour to South Africa. What transpired at Newlands Stadium during the third test as that Cameron Bancroft was caught red-handed on camera using sandpaper to change the condition of the ball.
Also, at some stage in the series, Quinton de Kock and David Warner got into a heated confrontation, and there was the Kagiso Rabada-Steve Smith shoulder bump controversy.
All these events overshadowed the Proteas’ big achievement of beating Australia for the first time at home in the post-isolation era winning the test series 3-1.
SERIES SUMMARY: Australia won the first Test in Durban, but the #Proteas bounced back in style by winning all three remaining Tests! Claiming 3-1 victory, their first over Australia at home since 1969/70.#SAvAUS pic.twitter.com/hjlx25Ab13
— SA Cricket magazine (@SACricketmag) April 3, 2018
Kevin Anderson Wimbledon Final
It took South Africa’s Kevin Anderson six hours and 36 minutes to Beat John Isner 7-6 6-7 6-7 6-4 26-24 in a marathon clash that went down as the longest semi-final at Wimbledon ever.
Anderson became the first South African to reach the Wimbledon final in 97 years. The big-serving Anderson also beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals coming back from two sets down.
Kgothatso Montjane Against All Odds
Sticking with tennis, the story about Kgothatso Montjane is incredible. The South African wheelchair tennis star struggled to get funding, sponsorship and had to play a grand slam, Wimbledon without her coach being present due to lack of money for her to travel with Montjane.
Nevertheless, Montjane managed to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals becoming the first post-apartheid woman tennis player to achieve the feat and also the first black South African and African woman’s tennis player to play at Wimbledon. The Limpopo-born player played in all four grand slams in 2018 and reached the semi-finals stage at the US Open. She also defended her Swiss Open title in Switzerland.
Siya Kolisi Made History
It was during the first Test against England at Ellis Park in June that Siya Kolisi walked down the tunnel to lead the Springboks. South Africa came to a standstill.
Kolisi became the first black player to captain the Springboks in a test match. He also led the Springboks to their first victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Kolisi was wearing the same famous number six jersey that Nelson Mandela wore in 1995 at the same venue, Ellis Park to inspire the Springboks to win the 1995 World Cup.
In the end, the Springboks won 36-34 against the World champions. Pieter-Steph du Toit crying at the end of the game was a clear indication of how big and important this victory was.
A NEW ERA HAS BEGUN!
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) June 9, 2018
Snenhlanhla Shozi Delivered a Hat-Trick of Tries
This may shock many people, but Snenhlanhla Shozi deserves to make the list.
Shozi became the first Women Springboks player to score a hat trick at the Women Rugby World Cup Sevens. What was more impressive was that she scored all three tries within seven minutes… and it was her World Cup Sevens debut.
The KwaZulu-Natal born also made her Springboks Women debut in 2018.
— Springbok Women (@WomenBoks) July 21, 2018
Blitzboks World Sevens Series Champions 2017/18
Still, on rugby, the Blitzboks beat England 24-14 to win the Paris Sevens and successfully defend their HSBC Word Rugby Sevens Series title.
Neli Powell’s men had to win the Paris Sevens to ensure that they won the title. Fiji went into the Paris Sevens as favourites to clinch the title as they had with a seven-point lead over the Blitzboks. Well, Fiji was shocked by Kenya with England beating them, doing South Africa a big favour. The Blitzboks were missing some of their stars to injury but still managed to pull it off.
Part 1 – The Blitzboks were crowned back to back champions of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the most unlikely of circumstances in Paris this year. A three-part documentary tells the story behind the story, of how the #Blitzboks became champions…Second Time Around. pic.twitter.com/ENBVXvVHg5
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 16, 2018
Percy Tau’s Made R50 Million Record Move
Bafana Bafana star Percy Tau’s move to Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premiership was a big moment in South African football history. Brighton paid R50 million to get Tau, a Premier Soccer League (PSL) record signing as no club has ever paid more for a player in South African top flight football.
The Witbank-born player might have been loaned out to a Belgian club after his move, but he has still made history and he is currently making an impression in Belgian. The 24-year-old had a stellar 2017/18 season with Mamelodi Sundowns winning the PSL Player of the Season while he has also become a key player up front for Bafana Bafana.
Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games
Team South Africa produced some breathtaking performances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to shock the world. The team returned home with a total of 37 medals, 13 gold medals, 11 silver, and 13 bronze.
Some of the great moments included:
- Luvo Manyonga, who overcame a drug addiction to became a world champion, winning gold in the Men’s Long Jump with a games record of 8.41m.
- Akani Simbine winning his first major gold and South Africa’s first ever 100m gold medal.
- Henricho Bruintjies coming in second to beat former world champion Yohan Blake.
These are Tokelo Martin Mokhesi’s top 10 South African sporting moments. Can you think of any others? If so, you are welcome to share them with us.