While for many, a simple tally of the post-Olympics medals table is sufficient measure of a country’s sporting health, for Lwandile Simelane, first vice-president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, success must also be measured elsewhere. She says: “I want sports to be a massive contributor to the economy of the country, for sport to also be an employer, and I hope that young athletes can have true commercial potential as sports athletes, leaders or administrators.” As the youngest person and first black woman to hold her position, Simelane feels extra motivation to reach these goals. Her advice for younger people, particularly those breaking into uncomfortable new environments: “Do not ever make yourself small. Go for what you want because the worst that can happen is you don’t succeed, but it is very painful to have the regret of not trying.”
Skateboarder Jean-Marc Johannes has won gold, silver and bronze medals in international competitions, and has set seven Guinness World Records for various skateboard stunts. He’s grown from an asthmatic kid in the Cape Flats to a world champion who’s competed in the US, Indonesia, China and Europe. His future ambitions include adding Olympic medals to his accolades. “My proudest moment was winning South Africa’s first gold international medal in the history of my sport, in 2016,” he says, which came in the Skateboarding World Series in Asia. In 2017, he won a silver medal in the same contest, and a bronze in the Pro Jam in Indonesia. There have been knocks along the way, but the ethos of falling over and getting back up again now runs throughout his life. He says it’s proof that if you firmly believe in yourself and just take one small but significant step each day, you can achieve your dreams.
Push your fears aside. Dreams don’t work unless you do. The road to success is always under construction.