What do a 13-year-old skateboarder, British BMX star and swimming ‘Schoenmaker’ all have in common? They’ve all won Olympic golds in Tokyo this past week. Newsflash: they also all happen to be women.
Sorry gents, we love you, but there was clearly no way you were going to escape an August Monday Musings without an outpouring of “I am woman, hear me roar”. We promise, we’ll keep it tidy.
Considering it’s been just over 120 years since the girls were allowed to lace up for a spot of lawn tennis or golf to compete amidst their brawnier boy counterparts, stories like that of Momiji Nishiya, the first woman in history to win a gold medal in skateboarding, and Carissa Moore, who won the first-ever women’s Olympic surfing gold (Saffa Bianca Buitendag snatched the silver), are like manna from heaven for sports journalists looking for a quirky hook to cut through the news cycle noise.
We personally love the story of Beth Shriever who won BMX gold after having to crowdfund her participation in Tokyo because the UK agency responsible for funding Olympic athletes had designed to financially support only male riders after the last Olympics. You go, girl!
But if you’re a Saffa, no matter how you identify, that shriek of unbridled joy that reverberated on our screens by Tatjana Schoenmaker after not only winning gold in the 200m breaststroke, but shattering a 13-year world record was enough to make even the most hardened oke get a bit misty.
A few hours’ later, there simply wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we saw that characteristically earnest South African Shosholoza welcome for Schoenmaker, courtesy of @Maphuti_africa. One team, one dream – a stark difference to what was making news just two weeks ago.
Feeling considerably more buoyant after our Olympic triumphs and the Springboks buried the British Lions this past weekend, I recognise like all athletes the pain we feel today, will be the strength we feel tomorrow.
And isn’t it amazing how sport continues to be our great unifier? I say this as someone who does not have a DSTV licence and has difficulty discerning my knock out from my knock on. Thank God for social media where I can get the highlights in less time than it takes Usain Bolt to run 100 metres. Go Bokke!
That said, as our vaccine roll out ramps up in earnest and the rest of the world stops seeing us as lepers because the Beta variant has retreated to the benches (did you hear ze Germans are coming?), there’s real truth in Alan Paton’s seminal words: “South Africa is a place where you despair on Monday and hope on Tuesday”.
When it’s down to the wire and we’re on the ropes, we always bring it back. And always reflecting that genuine picture of our heart, that generosity of spirit, like that we saw shine through in Tatjana’s radiant face last week.
Bring on Tuesday, and let’s make it last.
Winning the gold for irreverence this past week has to be our friends at Nando’s who have once again hit it out the park with their newsjacking of Schoenmaker’s win.
But seriously, on the topic of newsjacking, their fast food rivals, Burger King, vied for a medal with their oh-so-pressing question: “why do athletes always bite their medals?”
Burger King Belgium gets in on the game by challenging Whopper lovers to take a screenshot of an athlete biting their medal and posting the photo on social media with the hashtag #WishItWasAWhopper. Doesn’t look like this one’s a slam dunk, clever it may be.
What the world was musing over the past week
Wildflowers in bloom
And they’re out. South Africa’s kaleidoscopic wildflowers are peeping out up the West Coast and across Namaqualand and 2021 looks to be one of the best years ever for flower-loving tourists. Time for a Sho’t Left? We think so!
Meanwhile in London, the newest hotspot is the Marble Arch Mound, which sits on the edge of Oxford Street and offers sweeping views over London. After opening on July 26, it already has 31 Google reviews… with an average rating of just 1.2.
What kind of ‘boscher are you?
Having spent this past weekend exploring Stellenbosch’s beautiful Banhoek Valley and Dwarsrivier, I know I’m an Outdoors ‘boscher, perhaps with a spot of Wine ‘boscher, but what kind of ‘boscher are you? Take this quiz and find out.
The great escape
Had to laugh at this report of an Aussie mounting his escape from mandatory quarantine in a Perth hotel by scaling down a rope made of bedsheets from a fourth-floor window. We feel your pain, mate. Hope it wasn’t Egyptian cotton.
Clubhouse now open to all users
For those Android users who’ve been spitting mad they couldn’t join Clubhouse, good news this week is that the increasingly popular app is now available for all users. One of our faves has to be our very own Mandisa Magwaxasa’s #learnexhosa lessons.
The real winter warmer
Here’s one that will warm your heart and perhaps inspire you to launch a similar initiative. Madeleen van den Berg from Gauteng launched her “Free on a Tree” initiative this past weekend which saw dozens of trees countrywide strung with gifts of warm clothing.