Emotional win marks end to isolation - and a reminder of costs of apartheid
AN unexpected victory by the South African cricket team over Australia, the World Cup favorites, in Sydney Wednesday had an explosive impact here and elevated the country's long-awaited return to international sports competition to a major political event.
"This goes far beyond cricket," said African National Congress (ANC) sports mediator Steve Tshwete as he embraced South African captain Kepler Wessels and his teammate Peter Kirsten, the batting heroes of South Africa's nine-wicket victory over Australia.
South Africa's triumphant win over Australia was the country's first game in World Cup cricket in more than two decades. But it also marked a political victory of sorts for President Frederik de Klerk.
The Star, South Africa's biggest-circulation daily, carried a front-page color photograph of Mr. Tshwete, a black South African, and Mr. Wessels, a white Afrikaner, embracing each other - both clearly overcome with emotion.
"I am not normally an over-emotional person," Tshwete told the Star's reporter in Sydney. "But I cried three times today.
"I never had tears on Robben Island," said Tshwete, referring to his 10-year incarceration in the country's notorious Alcatraz-style political prison. "But I cried tonight."
Mr. De Klerk interrupted a Cabinet meeting to send a telegram to Wessels congratulating him on his team's spectacular victory.
The president captured the mood of a nation which had been glued to television sets from the early hours of Wednesday morning. Crowds gathered around sets in the lobbies of hotels and applauded in unison as the South Africans drew closer to victory.