Thursday, 14 November 2013

Time and Health

When I sat down to watch the analysis of the Wales-South Africa match on Scrum V the other night, I did not expect to have a moving experience. But one interview changed all that.

Wales had lost - they had never looked like winning. Some things never change. Throughout the 1990s, they were ruthlessly put to the sword by successive Springbok sides. These days the results are the same, but the matches are close. In those days, there was barely a contest.

One man often stood out for the Springboks. Joost van der Westhuizen. You wanted to hate him, but, boy, he was good. There are some athletes who remind you why you watch sport - he was one of them. Tall, powerful, fast, quick-thinking, and utterly ruthless. He was a giant of rugby.

Today, aged 42, he has motor neurone disease. He is a shadow of the man he once was. But he is also a different kind of hero. He is a man laid low by devastating, progressive and incurable illness. His voice is stuttered by the weakness of his nerves. He has months to live.

But he has something important to say about life. He tells us that we all think we have time, and health. He has neither, and he has something to tell us.

Do one thing for me today - listen to him speak. That's it. That's all. Good night.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/24890861

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