Johannesburg - There were many ups and downs in 2021, but South Africans have an unwavering passion for sport.
And as the year draws to a close, the Saturday Star looks back at the most iconic and memorable South African sporting moments.
We also take a look at some controversial sporting moments of the year.
Tatjana Schoenmaker makes history at the Tokyo Olympics
No South African achieved more in sport this year than swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker, who scooped two of the country’s three Olympic medals at the Tokyo Games.
After taking the 100m breaststroke silver, Schoenmaker landed the 200m breaststroke gold in a 2 min 18.95 sec world record.
She became the first South African female in 25 years, after Penny Heyns, to win Olympic gold in swimming.
She also became the first South African in 22 years to break a world record.
Bianca Buitendag becomes SA’s first Olympic surfing medallist
Bianca Buitendag, who hails from the sleepy city of George, stunned the world earlier this year as she scooped a silver medal in surfing at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The 27-year-old Victoria Bay local felled the third and second seeds on her way to the final, where she was downed by No. 1 Carissa Moore of the US, who created magic on typhoon-driven waves at Tsurigasaki beach.
Buitendag retired from surfing shortly after her magical stint in Tokyo.
Ntando Mahlangu shines at the Paralympics
Nineteen-year-old Ntando Mahlangu was the star of South Africa’s Paralympic team after winning two gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympics.
He won the gold medal in both the men’s long jump T63 and men’s 200m T61 events at the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Sundowns Ladies make history by winning the first CAF Women’s Champions League title
Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies made African history in November by becoming the winners of the first CAF Women’s Champions League after beating Ghanaian side Hasaacas Ladies 2-0 in Cairo.
Sundowns Ladies’ victory means the Chloorkop club joins Spanish side Barcelona as the only football clubs to win the men’s and women’s Champions League titles on their respective continents.
Goals by Chuene Morifi and Andisiwe Mgcoyi ensured victory for the South Africans, who exacted revenge for their men’s national team Bafana Bafana’s controversial loss to Ghana.
Springboks claim series win over British and Irish Lions
Morné Steyn kicked a match-winning penalty goal two minutes from time to earn the Springboks a 19-16 win over the British and Irish Lions in the third and decisive final Test at Cape Town Stadium, to give the Boks a 2-1 series victory over their British rivals
The visitors kicked off their tour to South Africa in magnificent fashion, producing a stunning second-half comeback to beat the Springboks 22-17 in the Series-opener at Cape Town Stadium, in August this year.
However, that wouldn’t prove to be enough as the Springboks went on to record a well-deserved victory over the British and Irish Lions in the second test, winning 27-9 to set up a mouthwatering finale.
KG Montjane makes history at Wimbledon
Tennis star KG Montjane made history at Wimbledon earlier this year by becoming the first black South African woman to reach a singles final and back-to-back finals in a Grand Slam.
The 35-year-old faced off against Dutch ace Diede de Groot in the Wimbledon singles final, where she eventually lost, while Montjane and her partner Lucy Shuker battled in the women’s doubles wheelchair final where they lost in straight sets.
While she may have fallen at the final hurdle in both of her finals, she received widespread praise with even President Cyril Ramaphosa heaping praise on her.
Cape Town pro-skater smashes Guinness World Record
Pro skater Jean-marc Johannes clinched his seventh Guinness World Record, with 18 big spins in one minute – breaking the previous record of 12 held by American Rob Dyrdek since 2007.
Jean-marc, 29, from Athlone in Cape Town, smashed his latest record at Cape Town Stadium on April 6.
Kaizer Chiefs reach the CAF Champions League finals
Kaizer Chiefs’ fairytale CAF Champions League run came to an abrupt end when Egyptian side Al Ahly ran out deserving 3-0 winners in the final at the Complexe Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.
The match may have been over as a contest at half-time after Champions League final debutants Chiefs were reduced to 10 men.
Once Al Ahly scored the opener, Chiefs’ hopes of mounting even token resistance disappeared into Casablanca’s night air.
The outcome meant that Al Ahly, coached by South African Pitso Mosimane, has now won 10 Champions League titles in 15 final appearances.
Chiefs, on the other hand, had never before advanced beyond the preliminary rounds in their 51-year history.
Bafana Bafana’s World Cup hopes controversially dashed
Bafana Bafana were knocked out of the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers following a 1-0 away loss to Ghana.
Ghana’s win did not come without controversy, however, with Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye awarding a dubious penalty to the Black Stars.
It was a cagey affair for the most part between the two sides, with Ghana enjoying their home advantage by form of greater possession and physical dominance.
The South African Football Association lodged a protest to global federation FIFA, alleging that there was match manipulation in the encounter, however, Fifa rebuffed their appeal.
Quinton de Kock refuses to take the knee
The 28-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman declared himself unavailable for a T20 World Cup clash against the West Indies in Dubai, with skipper Temba Bavuma confirming at the toss that the decision was a result of “personal reasons”.
The 28-year-old’s shock decision came just hours after Cricket South Africa (CSA) ordered all players at the tournament to take part in the anti-racism gesture.
CSA later revealed that it was De Kock’s personal decision not to take the knee ahead of the clash against the West Indies.
De Kock later apologised to his teammates and to supporters, saying he understood the importance of standing against racism and the responsibility of the players setting an example.
Patrice Motsepe elected president of CAF
Billionaire Patrice Motsepe was elected as the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at the federation's general assembly in Rabat, Morocco earlier this year.
He's the first South African to be elected to the position.
The official confirmation came after all three of Motsepe’s rivals pulled out of the race in order to take on vice-presidential roles.
Motsepe is the owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, the most successful football club in South Africa. The club also won the CAF Champions League in 2016.
End of an era for Bloemfontein Celtic
Controversial KwaZulu-Natal business-person Shauwn Mkhize bought football club Bloemfontein Celtic this year, renamed it Royal AM and relocated the club to Durban, where its matches have taken place this season
The sale left its legions of followers in despair and crying foul over this move, which seemingly came out of the blue.
The club is currently doing a good job in the PSL and is in 7th place on the log under their controversial owner.