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  • Sports World Remembers Mandela


    The IOC will fly the Olympic Flag at half staff for three days as a tribute to Mandela. (ATR)
    (ATR) In the wake of the Nelson Mandela's passing, a number of global sports figures are paying tribute.

    "He was a true statesman. A remarkable man who understood that sport could build bridges, break down walls, and reveal our common humanity." - IOC president Thomas Bach. 

    "It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. When he was honored and cheered by the crowd at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on 11 July 2010, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced." - FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

    "It was Madiba’s willingness to pursue a path of reconciliation and nation-building that has allowed South African sportsmen and women the opportunity to achieve so much on the global stage. Tata Mandela was instrumental in promoting the role of sport as an organ of change in our society and deserves huge credit for his extraordinary vision." South African Olympic Committee CEO Tubby Reddy.

    Mandela visits the athletes village during the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. (Getty Images)
    "Nelson Mandela recognised the unique power of sport to unite people from every walk of life. He understood that sport is built upon values that are universal, and that sport must be available to all. And he saw in sport the ability to transform lives by offering important lessons about perseverance, discipline and teamwork. The values that are at the heart of sport -- equality, opportunity and mutual understanding -- are the very same values Nelson Mandela fought to instill and uphold. He lived his life with courage and conviction, and as we mourn his passing, we are grateful for the unending inspiration he has given us all." - British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe

    "Mr. Mandela was a truly remarkable man. I was honored to be with him during the historic days of Rugby World Cup 1995 and saw his incredible impact on his nation and his people. His wisdom, intelligence, and sheer presence was a wonder to behold." - International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset. A moment of silence will be observed at the Rugby Sevens World Series Event in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on Saturday. All 16 teams will wear black armbands as a tribute. 

    "All of our lives are poorer today at the extinguishing of the great beacon of light and hope that led the way for our country through the transition to democracy. 'Madiba' was a great man of vision, determination, and integrity who performed a miracle that amazed the world as much as it amazed his fellow countrymen." - South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins.

    "Madiba exerted a profoundly positive impact upon the world, but especially within his home country of South Africa where he famously championed sport as a vehicle of inspiration and social change. Madiba was - and will continue to be - an inspiration to all through the courageous legacy he leaves behind. He will be sadly missed not only by the rugby family, but by the world as a whole." - Super Rugby governing body, SANZAR, CEO Greg Peters.

    Mandela carries the Olympic flame on Robben Island in 2004. (Getty Images)
    "Nelson Mandela was a towering symbol of resistance, a leader, an activist, and a man who recognised the power of sport to inspire and bring people together. Mr Mandela never compromised his principles and his beliefs in justice and equality. As South Africa's first black President, Mr Mandela recognised and utilised sport as a mechanism to unite the divided people of South Africa and create a shared national identity and pride. As a statesman, he was remarkable, and as a man, he was inspirational." - International Cricket Council president Alan Issac.

    "The sporting world will remember him for his tireless efforts at uniting the various sporting codes in order to create a proud and united South African sporting front. Nothing assuredly gave him greater pleasure than being part of the team that brought the FIFA World Cup to South Africa in 2010 and seeing what a wonderful celebration of sport, comradeship and humanity the tournament was. CSA dedicates the current series against the Indian team to the memory of Mandela." - Cricket South Africa president Chris Nenzani.

    "One of the greatest human beings ever. May your soul Rest in Peace... the world's greatest fighter." - Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

    "He made us realise, we are our brother's keeper and that our brothers come in all colours. He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free." - Boxing great Muhammad Ali.

    "Let us all continue his legacy with purpose and passion" - Brazil soccer great Pele.

    "Thankful Madiba for your legacy and your example. You'll always stay with us." - Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

    "We have lost a true gentleman and a courageous human being." - Former England soccer captain David Beckham.

    "The greatest man on the planet has died. RIP Nelson Mandela." - Former England striker Gary Linekar.

    This image of Mandela with Diana, the former Princess of Wales, appeared in a calendar to promote Cape Town's bid for the 2004 Summer Games. (ATR)
    "Nelson Mandela's courage, forgiveness, love and hope inspired people around the world. He made me want to be a better man." - Golfing great Gary Player.

    "Pop and I felt your aura when we met you. I feel it today and I will feel it forever. You have done so much for humanity." - World number one golfer Tiger Woods.

    "It is a very sad day. We have lost one of the iconic leaders of our time. You cannot say anything bad about the man. He fought for what he believed in, went to prison for so many years and came out to lead our country up until now. He was just the most amazing person I have ever met. Today will be tough." - South African golfer Ernie Els.

    "He never gave in to the spirit of defeat. He believed so that today you and I can be free to live a life with no limits!" - South Africa soccer captain Itumeleng Khune.

    "A man we did not have for long enough, but left a lifelong legacy. Madiba we will never forget" - South Africa's 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning captain John Smit.

    "My lasting memory of Madiba is that of a person who had enormous ability to bring people together" - South Africa rugby captain Jean de Villiers.

    "Rest In Peace Tata Madiba. Thank you for the inspiration and hope. May your legacy live on forever." - South Africa rugby player Bryan Habana.

    Calendar featuring Mandela that was distributed as part of Cape Town's Olympic bid (ATR)
    "A sad day for our country, Rest In Peace Madiba" - Former South Africa rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen.

    "Madiba was an inspiration to the Proteas in the same way that he was to other South African teams. To us he represented so many of the qualities which we as players have looked to adopt in playing for South Africa. He always gave simple but wise advice and this had a big impact on me as leader of the team. His words will stay with me forever as they were not only relevant to cricket, but also to life." - South Africa test cricket captain Graeme Smith,

    "Let us now, more than ever, stick together as a nation, we owe that to him that Much. Madiba, you will be missed" - South Africa cricketer AB de Villiers.

    "To a man who has changed the mindset of a nation, may we inspire and motivate as you have. You will always be remembered" - South Africa cricketer JP Duminy.

    Quotes courtesy of ATR and Reuters

    Compiled by Nick Devlin

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