Sports have always transcended boundaries. One could say it appeals and relates to everyone in some way. It engulfs people with emotions, which somehow choose to ignore all negative aspects like politics, hatred or race.
If there ever were a country who appreciates the barriers that sports helped us bring down, it would be South Africa. South African sports have always been affected by international bans due to its laws on apartheid, which were only abolished in as late as the 1990s. It’s a country for which sports has truly been a blessing in many ways.
South Africa has 3 major sports which have the largest fan following, namely football, cricket and rugby. Also known as the Bafana, the Proteas and the Springboks respectively. In its fight against apartheid, the international bans which restricted South Africa from participating in international events affected the national movement, as South Africans have always been known to be very passionate when it comes to these sports.
Football has been highly dominated by the non-white organisations and rugby union by the white population. The international bans on the various South African sports teams had more effect on the national anti-apartheid movement than the embargoes implemented by the various neighbouring countries. The picture of President Nelson Mandela supporting the springboks throughout the 1995 World Cup, which they won against all odds had a trickle-down effect to the most basic Bantustans in mending the broken race relationships. The captain of the Springboks back then publicly went on to acknowledge that the support of the President had pushed them harder.
One of the upcoming sports in South Africa is athletics, in which Africans have dominated the field in most Olympic Games. Jamaica is like a factory, which over the last couple of decades has single-handedly clean swept the Olympics in track events by producing the best track athletes. The most famous athlete at present is Usain Bolt, who hails from Jamaica. It is also a sport which has been catching up in most parts of the world.
Athletics is the most primitive and oldest form of sports. It is also no surprise that medical analysis have shown for centuries that running is highly healthy. Oscar Pistorius also known as the “blade runner” did South Africa proud when he became the first double leg amputee to have participated in the Olympics as he took part in the 2012 London Olympics.
One such recent study at the University of British Columbia has shown that running helps increase life expectancy and fight several diseases. According to the study conducted by Watburton and associates, running regularly reduced risk of premature death by 20% to 40%. Also, if one could increase the fat burned through running by 1000 calories, one could reduce the risk of premature death by a further 20%. It has also been found among people who run regularly that they have lower levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Patients who have complaints of high blood pressure have found that running helps them to maintain it at lower levels.
Running has also shown improvements in cardio-vascular functions. Burning about 1600 calories (10 miles) stops the growth of certain diseases, while burning close to 2200 calories has even shown mild symptoms of reversing certain cardio-vascular diseases.
Running has proven to be a wonder treatment for people suffering from diabetes. In the study conducted by Watburton and Associates, running helps to prevent and control type-2 diabetes. In the study of a 100 people, it was observed that running 5 miles a week can result in low occurrence of type-2 diabetes. As a high-impact sport, about 15-20 miles of running also helps in maintaining and building bone density. The study showed that women suffering from osteoporosis who undergo high-impact training were found to have an increased bone density.
The best aspects of running are that it is simple and does not require any kind of set up or equipment. All one needs is a good pair of running shoes and determination. The longer you run, the longer you live.
Tom is a marathon-running instructor of http://www.steinmetzgaboronemarathon.com/ . In a career spanning over fifteen years, he has trained many successful athletes. Tom likes to read and research about various sports histories from all over the world and often writes about them in his articles. He is fascinated with South African sports and believes that it is exemplary for the rest of the world.