National sporting teams and the manner in which its athletes compete often accurately mirrors the character traits of the country it represents.
South Africa as a country is infinitely unique and we can be described as having a certain strength of character in overcoming insurmountable adversity as a country, with this so-called SA spirit being shown on multiple occasions in recent years through sport.
The Proteas recently beat the Aussies down under, by winning the last test to clinch the three match series 1-0, but only after a dogged batting display to save the second test which resulted in the prior two tests being drawn.
Faf Du Plessis, the catalyst of the batting display in the second test alluded to the character of the team: “What has stood out for me has been the guts and character shown by the guys throughout this series. It’s probably a South African thing, but we just never back down, and we just kept on fighting. For my team mates, somewhere inside they find something that keeps them fighting. That, for me, has been the key to our success.
Certain countries are generally looked upon as having certain personality traits. Hypothetically if a cataclysmic threat against all humanity existed, such as a meteor heading towards Earth, you would want a German to build the rocket device, then make sure a Chinese person took care of all the calculations and then finally who else but an American, coming from a culture in sport whereby games are designed towards that one winning shot or catch that would lead to glory, to complete the mission with the entire population dependant on that one moment.
Recently there has been many sporting occasions to perfectly illustrate the South African spirit.
The first example is what is widely regarded as the best one-day cricket game ever when Australia set a mammoth total of 434 runs for SA to chase down for victory. We all are clued up on what happened but what is interesting is that this game represented the personalities of both nations perfectly, whereby Australia can be seen as innovators in pushing the boundaries in certain areas, and SA overcoming the impossible by sheer strength of character.
It's hard to imagine the proteas having the audacity to set a target of over 400 runs in a limited overs game.
Another example would be Graeme Smith being hailed as the bravest man in cricket after reappearing to bat in an attempt to save a test after having earlier broken his left hand. Smith fell just short of achieving that feat but was lauded as a hero.
A great memory that all South Africans who witnessed it will have is the 95' Rugby World Cup which many view as bringing the country together. The Boks beat a much fancied All Blacks team, however they almost never made it to the final in the first place, with their semi-final against France almost being called off due to heavy rain.
One of the lasting images of the world cup was of supporters picking up brooms to assist in clearing the water-logged pitch.
Arguably the most inspiring example however of South African spirit would be that of Oscar Pistorius. Being a double amputee many people would admire the bravery and strength of a disabled person being able to walk and perform everyday tasks.
Pistorius' story is truly remarkable because not only could he walk, he chose to run, not only could he run, he ran competitively and not content with competing at Paralymic events or even national able-bodied competitions, he strived to compete at the Olympics.
He achieved this against the most unbelievable circumstances but realised his dream becoming the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal.
As a democracy we are facing a huge amount of challenges such as education and unemployment. Maybe we should look at these obstacles as an opportunity to come together and overcome them by using innovation and a little South African spirit.
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