He might have run as if he would fall over exhausted at any moment - hence his nickname, meaning "Run-and-Fall" - but when Matthews Motshwarateu blew away the king of white middle-distance running at Coetzenburg stadium in 1978, the mostly Afrikaans crowd gave him a standing ovation, and a South African sporting legend was born.
South African powerboat racing legend Peter Lindenberg has a saying that he lives by: "There are no prizes for second place." In 22 years of powerboat racing he won the South African title on 15 occasions. There is no doubt that he would have won it even more times had he not also campaigned in the Formula One World Series.
Quite possibly the best South African boxer of all-time and a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Brian Mitchell won the WBA junior-lightweight title in 1986 and defended it a world record 12 times before retiring in 1991. Due to South Africa's apartheid policy during those times, Mitchell became a true 'road warrior', defending his title almost exclusively abroad.
Despite being a two-time major winner, quietly-spoken South African Retief Goosen has remained an enigma to many. He has seldom grabbed the spotlight with his words, but his achievements on golf courses around the world have shouted out his ability and performance loudly and clearly.
Shaun Pollock has retired from cricket as the top-ranked bowler and all-rounder in the one-day game. He is one of only 10 players to take 400 test wickets, and one of only five to crack the 300-wicket, 3 000-run mark in tests - all achieved with a humility and professionalism that won the respect of teammates, opponents and fans the world over.
South African tennis player Wayne Ferreira had a 6-7 career head-to-head record against the player that he and many others, before the emergence of Roger Federer, regarded as the greatest of them all, Pete Sampras, the winner of a record 14 Grand Slam titles. He also ended his career having played in a record 56 Grand Slam tournaments in succession.
Zola Budd became known to the athletics' world and beyond in the early eighties when, as a barefooted teenager, she produced one incredible record-breaking performance after another in women's middle distance running.
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.
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".