“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
The words of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, who himself managed to unite a deeply-divided country, recognising the power sport has to transform.
We are living in an uncertain world but Adam Peaty, Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Chad Le Clos all agree that sport has healing powers and can unite rather than divide, even where rivalries exist.
ADAM PEATY – OLYMPIC, WORLD, EUROPEAN, COMMONWEALTH 100M BREASTSTROKE CHAMPION & WORLD RECORD HOLDER
“100%. I think that is why Olympics are so special because it doesn’t matter what has gone on in the world or what has gone on in your day, you could be so sad but if someone brings back home gold it’s ‘yeah bravo’.
“When you bring back gold and you represent your country at the highest level, then you are going to inspire millions hopefully and cheer up the whole nation.
“The best way to lift the nation is through sport I reckon and what we can do and what we can bring back and what we can show the rest of the world – that we are a country that can pack a punch when we need to. We should be very proud of it.
“Sport never divides, it unites. I’ve never known a situation where sport has divided people, even though people are very competitive. It never ends up in a bad situation, you’re like ‘yeah, you did very well’. Even though you haven’t got the same language you can look at each other and you can shake hands and not even say anything. That is the power sport has, that camaraderie has stuck with me for so long and is one of the reasons I do it.”
RANOMI KROMOWIDJOJO – FORMER 50M & 100M FREESTYLE OLYMPIC CHAMPION, THREE OLYMPIC & WORLD TTILES
“I think sport can bring us together, for example the Olympics and worlds – it is all about people from all over the world swimming together and being friends. When we are on the blocks we are rivals but when the race is over we are friends.
“On the other side, I think people are getting really scared. I think the world is safer than ever but with Twitter and 24-hour news we know all the news from all over the world but 100 years ago we only knew what was happening in our own village. I think the world is safer than ever. We are getting so much news and bad things that we believe it is a terrible place.
“Just be yourself and as individual as you can be, just try to make the world a better place and then all the people think like that everybody does it.”
CHAD LE CLOS – FORMER OLYMPIC 200M BUTTERFLY CHAMPION & FOUR-TIME MEDALLIST, THREE WORLD TITLES
“I remember how it was in South Africa after London (when he won the 200m butterfly gold), it was so special – maybe at the time I appreciated it but I realise how big it was now after I didn’t win.
“It’s a beautiful thing because even now I have a lot of people who support me around the world, fans I made with how I was then and how I am now.
“It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, I always want to win and I think a lot of people see that in me and that is why they support me. I am not like other guys who shy away from events because of big people in their events.
“I want to do that again, maybe this year, Commonwealth Games is huge in South Africa and Olympics – I have huge plans for that, I really do.
“I take a lot of inspiration from other sports: I love rugby of course being from South Africa, I watch a bit of cricket, football is my favourite for sure. I like boxing, looking forward to McGregor against Mayweather.”