Lucas Radebe grew up as one of 11 children in a tough part of Soweto during one of the most violent times under apartheid. That he went on to became one of the English Premier League's most respected players, and South Africa's most-capped footballer, is in many ways a miracle.
At the end of each year, the Nedbank Golf Challenge consistently draws some of the world's best golfers to the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City in South Africa's North West province. Small wonder: "Africa's Major" is one of the world's richest tournaments, with a total prize fund of over US$4.3-million.
South Africa's Midmar Mile - the world's largest open water swim - was first swum in 1973 when three friends, unable to compete in the Buffalo Mile in East London because of petrol restrictions, decided to stage a race in KwaZulu-Natal.
Affectionately known as "the Black Prince", Jomo Sono has enjoyed success both as a superbly skilled player and as a coach with an astute eye for talent.
One of South Africa's greatest cricketers ever played in only seven test matches, but to quote former Australian captain and respected television commentator Richie Benaud, Mike Procter was "a marvellous all-rounder who would have walked into any test team since the war".
The Naas Botha of today is a well-known rugby commentator on the South African Supersport Channel, but in his day as a player he was one of the most feared match-winners in the game, best known for his deadly boot.
Morne du Plessis was one of South Africa's greatest rugby players and leaders, and in both respects he followed in his father's footsteps. Du Plessis senior led the Springboks to a four-nil whitewash of the much-vaunted All Blacks in 1949, and 37 years later Du Plessis junior led the Boks to a three-one series triumph over New Zealand.
When Gary Kirsten did well, South Africa did well. Over the course of an 11-year career the nuggety left hander from Cape Town became the rock upon which the South African team built its batting. And when he was finished he owned most of the important South African batting records.
Before Retief Goosen, before Ernie Els and before Gary Player there was another South African golfer who started the tradition of excellence among players of the southernmost country in Africa: Bobby Locke.
It's well known that South Africa has produced some of the all-time greats of golf, cricket and rugby. Less well known is the fact that a man destined for American football's Hall of Fame, the scorer of the most points in the history of the NFL, was born in Parys and raised in Durban, South Africa.