The 2014 Unite 2.0 campaign, an initiative of the Department of Sport & Recreation South Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture, was a joyful and celebratory day as over twenty-three thousand South Africans climbed on their bicycles, or pulled on their running shoes, to compete in the second annual Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day.
Once again South Africans proved that sport can be the glue that brings people together, as cyclists, runners (and walkers) put their best foot forward to celebrate the legacy of Mandela.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula welcomed everyone in the early hours of the morning, and his infectious energy got all the competitors excited for the day.
With white doves released and a bouquet of colourful balloons symbolising peace and the rainbow nation, the day kicked off with the national anthem.
It was Tshwane’s Executive Mayor, Cllr. Kgosientso Ramokgopa, who got the races underway, as South Africans from all walks competed alongside Unite 2.0 Ambassadors such as Caster Semenya, Shashi Naidoo, Minnie Dlamini, Werner Swanepoel, Craig Jacobs, Zane Moosa, Khanyi Mbau, Bianca Le Grange, Carol Tshabalala, Bridget Masinga, Sibongile Khumalo, and many other celebrities, sports stars and politicians.
The 67km cycling race winners, in both male and female categories, received an unprecedented R250 000, second-placed riders received R150 000, while third-place riders pocketed R100 000.
The men’s race was won by Reinardt Janse Van Resburg, with Hanco Kachelhoffer second, while HB Kruger finished third.
The women’s race winner was Ashleigh Pasio, while Marianne Vos finished second, and Cherise Stander ended third.
The winners of the 27km road race pocketed R150 000, with second getting R100 000 and third R50 000.
The winner of the men’s race was Elroy Gelant in a time of 1:25:25, with Desmond Mokgobu second and Philip Berech third.
Meseret Biru was the women’s winner in a time of 1:37:38, with Mamorallo Tjoka second and Mapaseka Makhanya third.
The winners of the 9.4km run, who received R40 000, were Joel Mmone (men) and Lebo Phalula (women).
The Minister of Sports and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula as well as the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa want to thank South Africa for massively supporting this year’s UNITE 2.0. The initial target of 25 000 was overwhelmingly exceeded by the attendance at the event and the organisers acknowledge that there are millions of others who could not attend, but supported the initiative.
Of course the Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day is not only about the athletes, and after the races, a medal ceremony and concert was held on the South Lawns of the Union Buildings.
Zandile Mzazi sang the national anthem to start the awards ceremony, and after the medals were handed out, dignitaries such as the honourable Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation, before the star-studded entertainment began.
Emcees Lupi Ngcayisa, Tall Ass Mo and Celeste Ntuli presented artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lira, the Parlatones, Kurt Darren, the Mahotella Queens, Zakes Bantwini, Sbongile Khumalo, AKA, Beatenberg, Sifiso Ncwane,Naima Mclean, Phuzekhemisi, Zahara, Karen Zoid, Desmond and the Tutus, Zandile Mzazi, Supreme I Crew, Botlhale, Kryptonite, Gcina Mhlope, Di Tswina Tsa Ngwao and Mzwake Mbuli.