On 26 April, the UPLYMPICS took place at the Tuks Athlete Stadium. These games included indigenous games, a cycling marathon, a running marathon, online chess, athletics, and a spectator’s challenge. 

The spectator’s challenge was a competition where the structures were given three minutes to perform a war cry. This was open to all the structures that were present, including the different residences, faculties, and private accommodations. House Erica won the spectators challenge. 

The event began with an exciting race in women’s hurdles with Sophie Banutelo, running for Law House, winning the race by running a time of 15.75 seconds. The event ended with the different house committees running a relay race all dressed in different costumes – Asterof was in giraffe costumes and the boys of House Ukuthula were in neon pink tights and white dress shirts. 

There was a large attendance at the event, which remained throughout the races. At 22:00 the stands still had a substantial number of spectators and many students voiced how they missed events such as this one. Nerina chairperson Jordan Appel says that the last time an event that involved athletics to this degree happened at UP was in her first year. 

The reason why events like UPLYMPICS are important is because they allow students to have a campus life beyond their academics. As Erica Chairperson, Caitlin Arries, says events like these encourage participation from the students beyond their ‘internal activities’. Thuso Diale, a Tuks Ekhaya resident, says that he is in his final year, and events like UPLYMPICS help him to create memories. He highlighted that students will not remember the tests they wrote, but they will remember the memories they make at these events.

This is more important in the context of COVID-19. The consensus among the UP-Student Sport Committee is that this event was held to help students to revive their love for sports. Ruzel Geldenhuys, a Vividus day house resident and UP discus thrower says that it was nice to have spectators back, especially since her parents could come watch her play. She threw 40.2m. 

Siyabonga Nkosi, the SRC Ex-officio and Transformation Officer, says that the SRC wants to see a transformation in sports events such as UPLYMPICS. An example of what type of transformation they are looking for, is in titles of races such as ‘men’s relay’ or ‘women’s relay’ to cater for those who are non-binary. The SRC is working with TUKS UP&Out to change things like this and to better cater to queer students. 

An aspect of transformation has already been implemented at the as students with disabilities could participate in these sport events. At the UPLYMPICS there was a visually impaired student who ran in the sprint race. The event announcer made sure that the crowd was aware of this and there was an atmosphere of camaraderie with the crowd standing and cheering the student on. It was a reminder of how events like UPLYMPICS creates a sense of community not only for the athletes but the spectators too, hearing and seeing your fellow students cheer you on is another important aspect of events like this. 

Private accommodations were also in attendance. Nokhukhanya Maposa, the head of the Sports Residence Anchor was a part of the Respublica and Hatfield Square structure. She says that it is very important that private accommodation structures are involved in these UP sports events as the majority of the residents in these accommodations are UP students, but do not receive the same opportunities to do extra activities like those who reside in UP residences. 

Diale voiced that the event could be better if it was more organised. He said that the schedule was only given to them on the day of the event, which makes it difficult for students to plan around their races. Nkosi said that he hopes that in the future the event can be placed on the UP calendar so that all students can participate. Nkosi added that he, like many other students, does not live close by campus and the 17:00 to 22:00 time slot is difficult for those without transport. Arries said that she hopes that in the future more sports, like hockey are added, to the UPLYMPICS.

Photos: Sharon Dumba and Jaime Lamb

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