Disabled, Delighted & Decorated

As I sit and write this article (hounded over deadlines), its 3.00am on Thursday, 14th October. I’m bleary-eyed and I have just watched the 33rd, and final, trapped Chilean miner being rescued from the dark and dank bowels of the earth after 69 days of captivity in, what must surely have been, a living hell. The FENIX capsule seemed so very fragile when it was revealed some weeks ago, but how effective! Because the operation went so smoothly, it almost lost some of the drama but WOW! This was human spirit at its most triumphant and very best and anyone who was even remotely involved in this marathon rescue will surely have indelible memories.

Perhaps this event will inspire the producers of Fear Factor to new heights? The 33 miners and their rescuers have certainly raised the bar - that’s for sure! No doubt they will make a movie. I won’t need to see it as I watched 21 of the 33 rescues. Sure, it was repetitious, but it was riveting in every way. If they do make the movie, I bet the guy whose mistress and wife didn’t pitch to meet him will star!

I have also been keeping a beady eye on the Commonwealth Games and am really glad that the hosts, India, pulled it off after such negativity during the build-up. Remember FIFA 2010?

I had a quiet chuckle after casting my mind back to 1994 when my public spat with the NOCSA President, Sam Ramsamy, and Minister of Sport, Steve Tshwete, over the exclusion of South African athletes with disabilities from the games in Victoria, Canada made headline news.

Disabled, Discarded and Disgusted was my stance. It made the front page of the Sunday Times and earned a slot as one of the sports quotes of the year. I also lobbied to have the medals of athletes with disabilities included on the main medal table as opposed to a separate farce. I’ll bet SASCOC are happy that the Commonwealth Games finally agreed to this with our golden girl, Natalie Du Toit, chipping in with three gold medals at Delhi! Well done also to Samkelo Radebe for his fabulous silver medal performance on the track in the 100 metres T44/T46. On that note, much work still needs to be done in the education of the media and public as to the classification system and grading methods.

On the subject of Games, I recently accompanied SASCOC on a whirlwind site visit to some of the London 2012 facilities. They seem on schedule and I have no doubt in my mind that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) will score a winner! London really is the complete package in terms of broadcast times, language, food, entertainment, arts and culture etc., so I would start saving if I were you. (A Nedbank savings plan would be appropriate!)

I had the privilege of seeing legendary South African blues guitarist, Dan Patlansky, play at the Blues Room in Sandton. The kid is a genius and that Fender Stratocaster guitar is simply an extension of his body. Bravo Dan, you’re the man! I also attended the Johannesburg leg of the launch of the new CD from Indie Rock Band, Zebra & Giraffe, The Inside, at the Alexandra Theatre in Braamfontein. No wonder they were picked to open for US giant The Killers at the Coca-Cola Dome last year! Zebra & Giraffe has it all and is one of a crop of great bands emerging on the South African music scene. This talented five-piece is spear-headed by a very capable songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Greg Carlin, and to my mind is as good as any international act playing this genre of music. Watch out for them and, when you are in your local music shop, pick up The Inside. Did I mention that their extraordinary lead guitarist, Alan Shenton, is courting my daughter, Claire?

Still on the music scene, where were you 8 December 1980, the night that John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark Chapman? I was a finalist in the Rhodesian sportsman of the year awards at Monomatapa Hotel in Harare. The night ended early, straight after the sad announcement by the MC. We all went home and played non-stop Beatle music for about a week! The genius would have celebrated his 70th Birthday on 0ctober 9th 2010 and I often wonder what he still had to offer, just imagine! Back to matters sport, congratulations to the Blade runners and Gauteng North for winning the Super series and Vodacom wheelchair basketball competitions respectively, no doubt as to where the power-house of South African wheelchair basketball currently lies. To Richard Pinker and his team at RICOH, congratulations on signing your new deal with the Pumas, despite them having a pretty ordinary season, that’s what a partnership is all about!

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