2020 – it’s been a tough ride

Former Atlantic Athletic Club runner, the late Vuyolwethu Mbukushe.

To say it has been a bumpy ride this year would be an understatement, if one considers the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Words fail to fully capture the devastating effect the virus and resultant lockdown has had on our communities.

On the sports front, sports activity came to a grinding halt. Seeing new talent emerge was unlikely as sports events were cancelled and athletes, like everyone else, confined to their homes.

For the first time ever, we were faced with absolutely no sporting activity in the public domain – no football at Cape Town Stadium; no rugby at the Green Point Track and Stephan Oval; no Athletics at the Green Point Athletics Track, no cricket in Camps Bay.

But that did not stop Atlantic Sun from checking in on athletes everywhere, albeit in ways we’ve not done before.

In January, we kick-started the year with the story of budding tennis star, Siyolise Schultz, 9, a member of the Anthony Harris Tennis Academy at Sea Point. She made the provincial tennis side before her progress was hampered by injury.

In March, cyclists lined up for the Cape Town Cycle Tour in what turned out to be the last major sporting event before the lockdown kicked in

Things took a turn for the worse as the rate of Covid-19 infections skyrocketed, putting an abrupt end to the under-50 Cricket World Cup, and other events.

Towards the end of the month it was game over, as President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national lockdown. No doubt, we were dealing with a “nasty player”, as Atlantic Sun sports editor Fuad Esack put it, when referring to the virus.

By the time we reached the month of May, almost everything was done digitally with professional video gamer Bjorn Webb saying interest in gaming had grown tremendously.

Runners also had to live by the new rules with virtual marathons becoming the trend and possibly shaping the way marathons will be run going forward.

In June, sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthetwa made some allowances for some professional sports to resume training but not community clubs.

In July, we also zoomed in on table tennis as a number of Cape Town table tennis officials sat down to take their International Umpires Examination; and in August, the month dedicated to women, we caught up with a young fighter, Gabriella Drewery, as she took advantage of the reopening of training facilities during alert Level 2 by hitting the gym.

We also brought you the story of the national softball coach Moses Moloba. The highly-experienced Moloba played at the Softball World Championships, coached the SA women’s national team in the Olympic qualifiers and represented three provinces with numerous accolades under his name.

In September, Cape Town drivers Edward “Eddie Rasta” Camphor and Yaseen Damon were getting ready to represent the city at the RedBull Shay’iMoto spinning event in Gauteng.

This year the cycling and running fraternities mourned the deaths of Cape Town Giants Cycling Club member Nathier Roberts and Atlantic Athletic Club’s Vuyolwethu Mbukushe, who both died in car accidents.

Roberts was knocked over by a driver during a training session ahead of the Double Century, one of SA’s premier endurance road cycling events.

Mbukushe, one of the city’s most promising runners, died in a hit-and-run incident and was missing for three months before his body was found and identified.

In an otherwise bleak year, we also featured a number of success stories in the latter half of the year, among others, Cape Town breakdancer Toufeeq Baadjies, aka B-Boy Toufeeq, being crowned winner of an international online competition; local darts player Devon Petersen becoming the first South African and African to win a major European professional title and young Cameron Carolissen securing his spot at the world darts championship.

On the rugby front, Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) powerhouse, Hamilton RFC, paid tribute to three of the club’s legends. Two lounges were named after Brian Russell Marshall Shirtliff. The committee room was unveiled as the Morris Silke Room after the club’s late vice-president.

These and other stories fill us with a sense of hope, that things will get better in 2021 and beyond – as long as we stick to the anti-Covid mantra: Mask up, sanitise and practice social distancing. Happy and safe holidays.