In 1996 Penny Heyns won South Africa's first Olympic gold medal in 44 years. But as the woman now known as the best female breast stroke swimmer of the 20th century stood on the podium, she had no idea she had just made history.
Athletes from Commonwealth countries are gearing up to show their mettle at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Team South Africa, its young stars from the Department of Sports and Recreation's youth development initiative, will get its chance to shine after the Games's opening ceremony on 23 July.
Gold medal-winning swimmer Natalie Du Toit is one of South Africa's best-loved athletes. Undeterred by an injury that many thought would take her out of the pool, she has gone on to compete in the world's most prestigious sporting events, and made sporting history by always beating her best.
The Berg River Marathon is probably the most gruelling way to spend four days in mid-winter. The canoe race sets off from Paarl and ends 240 kilometres away in Velddrif, in the Western Cape. Throw in howling wind, driving rain and lots of portage, and you've got a recipe for extreme sport.
Nelson Mandela taught the world plenty of things; notably, don't let your circumstances stop you from achieving greatness. Mandla Maseko is doing just that. A part-time DJ from Mabopane who had to put his studies on hold because of financial constraints, he is to be the first black astronaut.
Starting at Manaye Hall in Imbali – where he gave his last speech as a free man – and ending at the Capture Site, where the Black Pimpernel was finally caught, the Mandela Day Marathon is symbolic of the triumph of the human spirit. There are also shorter distances, a trail run and mountain bike rides.
With helmets on their heads and leather riding boots protecting their feet, bikers selflessly travel across South Africa each year, stopping off to help where they are needed. This year, among their many outreach activities, Bikers for Nelson Mandela Day will hand over handmade blankets.