Sporting heroes pay tribute to Mandela

Pretoria, South Africa (PANA) – Speaking for the international sporting community, the South African golfing icon, Gary Player, Friday paid tribute to “fallen giant” Nelson Mandela who died in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

In an emotional interview with PANA here, Mr. Player recalled how Mandela “through his lack of bitterness” had single-handedly transformed South Africa from a pariah state to an international beacon.

Player, who won nine Major golf tournaments, recalled the first time he met Mandela at the African National Congress headquarters in Johannesburg, shortly after his release from prison in 1990.

“I knelt down and kissed his feet and I told him I loved him – I have never told anyone this,” a tearful Player said.

Player, who was voted South Africa’s Sportsman of the Century in 2000, said other world leaders could learn from Mandela’s love for all mankind.

Mandela who played an important role in uniting the nation by embracing the national rugby team was also saluted by the country’s rugby administrators.

“All of our lives are poorer today at the extinguishing of the great beacon of light and hope that led the way for our country through the transition to democracy,” Oregan Hoskins, President of the South African Rugby Union, said in a statement.

The South African Football Association said Mandela played a crucial role in securing the rights to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "Madiba was responsible for lifting the spirits of our football nation from the talks to unite the Association to victory at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

He served as the catalyst in our bid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup" said SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan.

A minute’s silence was observed before the start of the second day of the second Ashes test between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval and at the first test between New Zealand and West Indies in Dunedin.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 6Dec2013

06 december 2013 09:47:53

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