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.
Natal Sharks' eighthman Gary Teichmann played 42 tests for the Springboks, leading the national team on 36 occasions and establishing a reputation as a hard-working, committed, courageous and fair player throughout the rugby world.
Elana Meyer was among the world's elite athletes for over 10 years, establishing world records at 15 kilometres and the half marathon, and boasting five of the 15 best half marathon times in history, a consistency matched by few other athletes.
A left-handed batsman who struck the ball with immaculate timing, making the game look at once simple and stunning, Graeme Pollock was arguably the greatest left-hander in cricket history, with a test average second only to Sir Donald Bradman.
South Africa is blessed with three world-class canoe marathons, each offering the paddler a supreme challenge along with genuine camaraderie in a field that includes not only those trying to win, but also those who come to compete with themselves and the river.
When South African rugby fans named Frik du Preez the country's rugby player of the twentieth century, it was a vote not only for his prodigious performances on the field, but also for his charisma and influence on those around him.
For the golf enthusiast, South Africa is a wonderful destination - and that's an understatement. The country boasts an ideal climate for spending time out on the fairways under the bright African sun, and golfers here are blessed for choice.
After 21 years without success, Ferrari finally crowned a Formula One world champion in 2000 when Michael Schumacher won the prestigious title. Ironically, it was thanks to this lack of success that the previous Ferrari champion first became known to the new generation of racing fans. He was South Africa's Jody Scheckter.