The Recognition Minute
Awards for South Africans July 21 2017, 0 Comments
May I state the obvious? We live in interesting times. As always!
The history of South Africa has given us lots to talk about. The wildness of the terrain has yielded so much to see. Diverse people live together in this colourful nation.
As South Africans, we have shown great resourcefulness in finding solutions to problems over the decades, even centuries. So, a little about our heritage of success, for which we could be forgiven for awarding ourselves a medal. No, make that a huge, silver trophy!
3 December 1967, on the tip of our African continent, Dr Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant. It was uncharted territory. A domain unexplored in humans. It was very risky since once he had removed the patients failing heart, there was no turning back. Either the recipient would never wake up or they would wake up with a functioning heart. If the heart did beat and give life, how well and for how long? There was no precedent. No one knew.
Louis Washkansky did wake up and Dr Barnard became the first ever to succeed in transplanting a human heart into another person. Kudos, trophies, medals and plenty of certificates all round. Barnard became an international celebrity and performed another ten heart transplants, one of the patients surviving for 23 years.
Another Doctor, Dr Selig Percy Amoils created a new method of cataract surgery, using his cryoprobe. He developed this method at Baragwanath Hospital and was awarded the Queen’s Award for Technological Innovation in 1975. His invention gave back sight to many, who could now enjoy their successes in the light. This put South Africa on the world’s stage of medical advancement again. His invention has since been on display in the Kensington Museum in London.
Another exceptional advancement in medical technology was the CAT scan. This was developed in Cape Town by physicist Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield. It required medical and mathematical skill and innovation in order to achieve their goal: a scanner that could scan the whole body and translate the data into meaningful images. These scans were clearer than static X-Ray plates and took the medical world a leap forward in diagnostic ability.
Their work also deserved an enormous trophy and was recognized through a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
A CAT scanner is used routinely today in the diagnosis and management of many medical conditions and allows for much better and more specific treatment.
One more South African medical invention: The Smartlock safety syringe.
The Smartlock syringe automatically retracts the needle into a sheath and locks it in place as the needle is withdrawn the patient. Therefore, no needle caps to place over used needles or a specific ‘sharps’ disposal container. This meant safety for all concerned.
Interesting times indeed. May our people continue earning awards for South Africa, whether in science or culture, sport or engineering.
In our next blog post, I will feature some other, world-renowned inventions by South Africans who deserve the gold medal of innovation and the trophy of success!
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela July 18 2017, 0 Comments
So much has been written about former President Nelson Mandela and for good reason. So, I thought that on what would have been his 99th birthday, I would simply let the man speak for himself. Here are some of his quotes, which live on for us:
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
It always seems impossible until it's done.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
Comrades of South Africa who won The Medal July 13 2017, 0 Comments
In 1921, Bill Rowan, the first Comrades winner, crossed the finish line in Eight Hours and Fifty-Nine Minutes. He was one of 16 runners to finish the race and went on to represent South Africa at the 1924 Paris Olympics. A piece of history was carved into the records on that 24th of May, an event commemorated each year to this day.
Until 1962, the winner’s medal was awarded to South Africans mostly. Between ’62 and ’72, three Brits took the first gold medal, all finishing in under six hours. In 1965, a lady crossed the finish line in top position for the first time – her time: 10:07. That was Mavis Hutchinson.
Familiar names such as veteran Wally Hayward, Allan Rob and of course, Bruce Fordyce have been inscribed in the history books as winners and legends of this ultra-marathon. Eight successive wins for Fordyce from ’81 – ’88 set an exceptionally challenging record for the future, which is not likely to be beaten any time soon. His finish times remained reasonably consistent throughout with race no. 8 being close to his personal best, a remarkable achievement.
In 1989, Samuel Tshabalala took first place among the men and Frith van der Merwe received her gold medal in 5:54 on the down run; her second Comrades win and an improvement of 38 minutes over the previous year which was an up run. Tshabalala was the first Black South African contender to win Comrades.
There are many names not mentioned here who have helped place South Africa first in the medal and trophy stakes. Names such as Moshiywa, Mamabolo, and Ngomane come to mind. Among the ladies, let’s not forget Maureen Holland, Lindsay Weight, Caroline Wostman and Charne Bosman.
In 2014, Bongamusa Mthembu wins his first Comrades in 5:28:34. In his own words, it took him eight years to win. He started as a brick layer and ran to keep healthy. Latest achievements include gold medal status in six marathons since 2012 and of course, his latest victory, a gold medal for his win in 2017.
Gold Medals and Trophies are for the few but what would the Comrades Marathon be without the thousands who support and cheer and hand out water and energy bars as the winners run by. And who are the winners? Those who put in the hours of training before the great race; those who finish before the gun and those who tried but missed their award, who pick themselves up and try again.
Prestige Awards salutes all our South African Comrades.
For athletics medals with a South African flavour (athletics image with SA Flag colours ribbon), see: https://www.prestigeawards.co.za/collections/medals/products/athletics-medal and the new Mzanzi medal: https://www.prestigeawards.co.za/products/multipurpose-mzanzi-medal-40
Wayde van Niekerk – a true South African wears the medals July 10 2017, 0 Comments
Do you remember, August 2016? Round about the middle of the month in Rio when a true South African stormed to victory. Wayde van Niekerk not only won the gold medal but set a new world record, covering 400 meters in 43.03 seconds!
This was a momentous occasion for the South African medalist as a world-class winner and the owner of the first gold medal in a track event for South Africa in 96 years. The previous record achieved by Michael Johnson over this distance had stood since 1999.
Minutes later, Usain Bolt ran the 100m in only 9.81 seconds, the third in a series of 100m titles. Wining trophies and medals was in the air.
Wayde was inspired by Bolt’s achievements and spent time in Jamaica training with him. “My favourite event is the 200m so I would love to race him one day when I am big,” said the fastest man ever over 400m.
It was earlier in the year that Wayde became the first athlete to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, the 200m in under 20 seconds and the 400m in under 44 seconds. Imagine the pleasant weight of three gold medals around your neck!
Now, he has added one more: a gold for the 300m in sub 31 seconds and has become the first man in history to hold the title over all four distances. What an exceptional athlete.
Wayde is humble in his achievement and readily acknowledges that there were significant others including Glen Mills, Usain Bolt’s coach in Jamaica. Back home, another true South African and unlikely coach, his white-haired grandmother, Ans Botha. This combination proved to be dynamite for van Niekerk.
We salute you Wayde! May these records again be confirmed and beaten by you, a proudly South African man and a role model to many, young aspiring athletes.
For athletics medals with a South African falvour (athletics image with SA Flag colours ribbon), see: https://www.prestigeawards.co.za/collections/medals/products/athletics-medal and the new Mzanzi medal: https://www.prestigeawards.co.za/products/multipurpose-mzanzi-medal-40
Mzanzi May 26 2017, 0 Comments
Friday. Great weather. And two days to enjoy it.
Weekend, the traditional time for South Africans to gather, braai, quench their thirst and think about what life might be like in the snow. Then, grateful for the sun, the boerie and the beer, realise that life in Mzanzi is still good.
If you are in Cape Town, perhaps you will take a walk up a mountain somewhere. And when you summit, reward yourself with the view, the breeze and the thought that it is all downhill from there. You will have earned your medal!
If you are in Durbs, maybe a walk along the beach front. There is still time for a dip in the warm current off the Eastern border. Take part in a race through the hills or cycle to the Wild Coast and back. And when you are done, reward yourself with a glass of cool mineral water, ice and lemon. You have earned your medal.
Perhaps you are somewhere in Mpumalanga, among the citrus fruit and the pecan nut trees. Hiking through the gorges in search of a waterfall. Being on foot is challengin but it’s worth it because you too will have earned your medal. You will enjoy untouched lands of green moss and fresh spring water. An award or excellence. Nature’s gold medal to you.
But what if you are in Johannesburg? No mountain. No river. No sea. How will you earn your medal? Do no despair! This is where life happens, too. This is the buzz, the spark, the noise, the music. Restaurants and clubs, movies and shows, gyms and park runs and loads more. Any number of ways of earning your medal. If it’s your time to just kick up the feet and chill and still want a medal, all you have to do is visit www.prestigeawards.co.za and buy one. All possible without moving from the couch.
Wherever you are in Mzanzi, there will be a medal.
Look out for the special Mzanzi from Prestige Awards – coming soon!