2020 – it’s been a helluva ride

Boxer Gabriella Drewery faced a new kind of opponent, in the form of a nasty virus.

To say it has been a bumpy ride this year would be an understatement, if one considers the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been a year like no other and words fail to fully capture the devastating effect the virus has caused in our communities.

On the sports front, sporting activity came to a grinding halt. The likelihood of seeing new talent emerge was put on hold as sports events were cancelled and athletes, like everyone else, confined to their homes.

For the first time ever, we were faced with absolutely no sporting activity – no baseball at Abe Scher stadium; no cricket at Theo Marais sport field, no boxing in Dunoon and no revving of motor engines at Killarney

But that did not stop the Tabletalk from checking in on athletes everywhere, albeit in ways we hadn’t done before.

We kick-started the year, in January, with a preview of the aptly-named Passion for Speed race (the first event on Killarney’s pre-lockdown calendar) which was scheduled to take place in the first week of February.

Community sport hit a dead-end street when organisers of the Bayhill Premier Cup announced that the annual Easter soccer spectacle would not be taking place in 2020.

However, the lack of sporting activity turned out to be the least of our concerns, as we also bid a sad farewell to a number of stalwarts who died during this year, including San Souci High sports co-ordinator, Shafiek Murphy, Sawaan Theys Maggot, ardent supporter of local soccer and three members of Stragglers Social and Athletic Club’s Walter Jaftha, Mark Waverley and Abdul Gamiet Salie.

In March, Table View kitesurfer, Joshua Emanuel impressed the crowd at the Red Bull King of the Air international kite surfing event at Kite Beach, in Bloubergstrand, in what was to become one of the last major sporting events of the year, along with the Cape Town Cycle Tour.

We caught up with Olympic-bound, Jean Marc Johannes in April. Like many hard working sports enthusiasts he’d taken to online fitness challenges and honed his craft at home, instead of the street or the nearest skate park.

Former Tabletalk sports reporter, a Bothasig resident and an MMA fighter Karl Bergemann, shared some training tips to help us through isolation during the lockdown period.

By the time we reached May, almost everything was done digitally and so we spoke to professional video gamer Bjorn Webb, who told us that, with most people going online, interest in gaming had grown tremendously.

In June, sports arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa made some allowances for some professional sports to resume training but it was really community clubs which were hardest hit.

In July, we also zoomed in on table tennis as a number of Cape Town table tennis officials took their International Umpires Examination and in August, the month dedicated to women, we caught up with a young fighter, Gabriella Drewery, as she took advantage of the reopening of training facilities during alert Level 2 by hitting the gym.

As lockdown restrictions were eased, motorsport fans were able to Killarney after six months of lockdown; Milnerton Aquatic Club (MAC) kicked off its series of events with the MAC opening cruise on September; and racing enthusiasts gathered at the newly-constructed oval raceway at Zone 7, near Melkbosstrand.

In November, the cycling fraternity mourned the death of Cape Town Giants Cycling Club member Nathier Roberts, from Goodwood, who was knocked over by a driver during a training session ahead of the Double Century, one of SA’s premier endurance road cycling events.

And we rounded off the year by bringing you news from the Killarney eight-hour race, which was described as a roaring success.

These and other stories fill us with a sense of hope, that there is room for improvement and that things will get better in 2021 and beyond – as long as we stick to the Covid protocals in place to keep us safe: Mask up, sanitise and practise social distancing. Have a happy and safe holiday.