Celebrating the legacy of our patron on Mandela Day

Celebrating the legacy of our patron on Mandela Day | Laureus
Today is Nelson Mandela Day.
It was launched in recognition of Mandela’s birthday on 18 July, 2009. It is more than a celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honour his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.
Nelson Mandela was the first Patron of Laureus. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: 

“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. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” 

This has become the philosophy of Laureus Sport for Good and the driving force behind its work.

The power of sport to unite & inspire a new generation

Celebrating the legacy of our patron on Mandela Day | Laureus

Ona Carbonell's 'highly unusual routine'

Celebrating the legacy of our patron on Mandela Day | Laureus

We believe sport can change the world

Guests at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards, sign the commemorative 'Mandela' wall as a symbol of support for his vision. 


Celebrating the legacy of our patron on Mandela Day | Laureus

Meeting for the first time...

Laureus Academy Members, some of the greatest living sporting legends, share their best memories and reflections of how Mandela's words and actions have impacted their own lives. His legacy is alive and well through the work of Laureus Sport for Good.
The original inductees meet Nelson Mandela at the 2000 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.

Sean Fitzpatrick

“I first met Nelson Mandela when the All Blacks were the first sports team allowed back into South Africa after the breakdown of the apartheid regime. It was quite an eventful and moving time. I had just assumed I would never go to South Africa so to get the opportunity was a dream come true.
The memory of seeing Nelson Mandela walk on to Ellis Park three years later clad in a Springbok jersey in front of a stadium of tens of thousands of adoring fans before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park was also unforgettable. It was the most unbelievable atmosphere. We didn't know that he was going to come into the stadium and just to feel the power that filled the stadium with was quite phenomenal.

Another enduring memory was the speech he gave as Founding Patron of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in Monaco in 2000. He said that ‘sport has the power to change the world, to inspire and to unite people’. That is something which I will always take with was a wonderful speech.”

Michael Johnson

“Nelson Mandela was one of the greats of our time. I was lucky enough to meet him in South Africa and I was really moved by his warmth, generosity and wisdom. 

I think the world is a better place for having had him in it. He was always interested in sport.  He obviously had a major impact on the world, but he also had a major impact on sport.

I think that people truly understand, because of his words, that sport has the power to change the world; the real, true power of sport, but also the responsibility sport has.”

Nawal El Moutawakel

“I had the privilege to meet him in person for the first time in March 1996 in Stellenbosch, South Africa as the IAAF Council member during the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. He really liked the event and made a statement saying: “this event brings back fond memories of my childhood days, when as a school pupil I used to participate in cross country myself”.
I was introduced to him as the 1st African female athlete to ever win a gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games. He was very proud and asked me if I could join the Cape Town bid Team for the 2004 Olympic Games; which I did with great pride.
I met him again in Morocco; it was back in 1998 when I was Minister of Sport and again, in Monaco in 2000, at the launch of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Each time we met, he would speak about the power of sport as an agent for social change.”