Columnists 16.5.2018 01:37 pm

Don’t get comfy, icebergs are inevitable

Jaco van der Merwe.

Jaco van der Merwe.

The world of sport is fairly populated with its own versions of Titanic-like bravado.

When Manchester City completed their record-breaking English Premier League campaign last weekend, manager
Pep Guardiola was understandably quite ecstatic.

Maybe a bit too ecstatic.

“When you win with 100 points it’s something special for the club. I think it’s a record that will stay for a long time,” he said after their final day win over Southampton saw them reach the unprecedented three-figure mark on the points table.

But being so self-assured is risky.

Remember that famous line from the crewman on the Titanic who remarked that “not even God himself can sink this ship”?

The world of sport itself is fairly populated with its own versions of Titanic-like bravado.

A classic example was a very annoyed Northern Transvaal captain Naas Botha after their historic defeat at the hands of Natal on their holy turf in the 1990 Currie Cup final.

In the light of their maiden success in their centenary year, Botha went as far as to say that Natal would take another hundred years to win the famous cup again.

Natal took three of the next six titles on offer and today boast a total of seven Currie Cup titles.

Mathematically, after winning six of the first 27 titles on offer in their second century of existence, the Sharks are on course to celebrate their 200th birthday with 22 more titles than they had on their 100th birthday.

Ouch, Naas.

In cricket, it took a quarter of a century for the 400-run milestone to be reached in a one-day international, a mark that seemed impossible during the days when a total of a smidgen over 200 was successfully defended more often
than not.

But on March 12, 2006 50-overcricket took a dramatic and exciting turn at the Wanderers.

Australia smashed the then record highest score held by Sri Lanka by all of 36 runs to score 434/4.

An impossible mark was made possible, requiring an even more impossible chase by the Proteas.

But not even four hours later the new record stood at 438/9.

The impossible was suddenly possible twice in one day and the even more impossible had also become possible in the wink of an eye.

And not even four months later, the Proteas’ new record was wiped from the record books by a rampant Sri Lankan team hammering 443/9 off a hapless Dutch attack in Amstelveen.

A 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci made headlines around the world at the 1976 Summer Olympics when she became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 on the uneven bars in Montreal.

You guessed it, that was a score nobody thought was possible over decades of competitive gymnastics.

The Romanian teenager went on to record six more perfect 10s at that Games, but only fours days after Comaneci’s historic feat, Russian competitor Nellie Kim also nailed a perfect 10 on the vault.

And as in most cases, once the ceiling was broken the floodgates opened and a host of gymnasts achieved the feat thereafter until the scoring system was changed in 2006.

When The Citizen recently approached Zola Budd after Caster Semenya broke one of her long-standing middle distance records, her response was: “records are meant to be broken.”

Some might take longer than others, but there isn’t one that can withstand the inevitable iceberg.

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