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General News Johannesburg, South Africa

Mandela presented with Jesse Owens Peace Through Sport Award

The former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, has received the "Peace through Sport" Jesse Owens Trophy for his efforts to reconcile South Africans through sport.

Mandela, who is 81, was presented the trophy at his home in Houghton, a suburb of Johannesburg, in the presence of the American Ambassador James Joseph and representatives of the IAAF on September 20.

The trophy had actually been awarded to Mandela in 1995 when the Rugby World Cup was won by South Africa in Johannnesburg. Mandela appeared for the final wearing the Springboks uniform, a potent gesture in a game traditionally played by conservative whites in South Africa.

Mandela still believes that sport has a special role to play in South Africa’s period of transition towards a multiracial society, and his intention in 1995 was to show that the Springboks were a national treasure and not a relic of the apartheid years. He is also confident that the Springboks will retain their title at the next edition of the World Cup in 1999.

Other receivers of this prestigious award, which is sponsored by Pittsburgh University, include the President of the IOC Juan Antonio Samaranch, and UN General Secretary Kofi Annan.