Columnists 19.8.2016 11:14 am

Olympic night owls deserve medals too

Tamlyn Patterson

Tamlyn Patterson

Even though my fingers are itching to write this entire column about a certain American female gymnast, I dare not.

I fear if I had to mention the name Simone Biles, my editor and coworkers might just arrange for me to get burnt at the stake or even better, tossed into Rio’s slimy green waters.

It’s enough that I’ve forced my colleagues to watch it every single night, the poor souls. But any keen follower of the Olympics will grant me a line or two about one of the athletes of the Games so far. Wayde, we love you, but five medals, four of them gold, take some doing.

The 19-year-old is amazing and watching her brilliance during the last few days has been an absolute pleasure. What a shame that we only get to see this once every four years. Okay, done. Moving on … from bright new things to 70-something-year old-tannies.

Ans Botha is no average 74- year- old. Her swag jumps out just looking at a picture of her and Wayde featuring on all the news websites around the world. Her arms folded stance says it all – this is no ordinary granny. Her presence is obvious and last Monday morning was no different when cameras managed to capture her surprised delight in the crowd, second only to a stunned Wayde.

Their paths crossed in 2012 when the Grey College pupil enrolled as a marketing student at the University of the Free State. Within four years of being together, his times had dropped by four seconds. And even after her world record-breaking star athlete smashed through a 17-year-old barrier, the great grandmother of four has no plans of calling it quits anytime soon.

Tannie Ans, as she is affectionately known, runs the athletics programme in Bloemfontein and also played a part in nurturing 100m sprinter Akani Simbine. She also has some other tricks up in her sleeve. When asked about other superstars in the making, Ans revealed she had two girls and a boy waiting in the wings. Bring on Tokyo.

While Botha and the rest of the globe soak up Wayde’s astonishing feats, it has been amusing to see how the rest of the world reacted to our golden boy. They were completely taken aback but back home, we all knew that something huge was about to unfold. Maybe not as big as breaking Michael Johnson’s precious record, but a significant happening was on the cards nonetheless.

While some strive for athletic excellence, the majority of us are well, let’s just say, quite happy to get through our days with a little less ambition. Talk about a hard life. As nail-biting and enjoyable as the Olympics have been, I don’t think the average South African sports fan will miss waking up at 3am come Monday morning. Of course, we didn’t mind setting the alarm for Wayde, but there have also been plenty of fruitless early morning sessions on the couch.

Like someone said on Twitter referring to Biles last week: “A 19-year-old just won a gold medal in the #Olympics and I’m sitting here on my couch trying to teach my dog to fetch me a beer. #priorities.” Now you’re talking.

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