Those that know me, know that I am an avid sports follower. The type of sport doesn’t really matter. I always find an athlete, team or cause to get behind. More often than not, I become a bit too emotionally involved and end up acting a tad bit irrational afterwards. Whether it is sulking around for a day or two after a loss or feeling invincible after a victory, the emotions will more probably than not run high. When I think about it I think my passion is more about the strategies and the oddities that sometimes occur due to phenomenal sporting achievements. This got me thinking when Wade van Niekerk broke a world record early Monday morning, did the currency also take notice?

Consider that; Wade managed to break a standing 17-year record. He got a reaction from Usain Bolt and still trending globally. This incredible feat received global media with Bolt even issuing a challenge to the Young athlete. But does this have any impact at all on the financial markets?

Let’s look at the facts quickly. At the time that Van Niekerk ran the world record the Rand Dollar exchange rate was at R 13.4900/$. At the start of trading (09:00 CAT) on the JSE the exchange rate was R 13.4350/$. This is already an .5% appreciation of the rand. It might not seem like much in the greater scheme of things. But indulge with me for a second, and consider, that the strengthening of the Rand is due to the world taking note of us due to Van Niekerk it is an amazing impact that one man has had one the currency.

By the close of business (i.e. 17:00 when trading on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange halted) the currency was trading at R 13.2645/$ with the lowest trading value for the day R 13.25/$. That is an 1.78% appreciation of the Rand on a day that saw major indices and shares take quite a knock. The JSE All Share down .77% and the Top 40 down just shy of 1%. Not bad Wade, not bad…

I already hear most people say, “it’s impossible for a sportsman to shift the rand!” In principle (and most probably in all the theories) I would agree with you. But I challenge you to consider for a second that not everything can be solved but theory and I dare you to dream of the possibility that 24-year old athlete can shift the currency.

Ok so most people will probably still not be convinced, I would like to introduce the following bit of pro-Wade evidence. All that Wade did this week is a form of advertisement. The best advertisement possible, advertisement that no TV campaign or advertisement will ever achieve, it is the triumph of human spirit. Wade, and all the phenomenal South Africans at the Olympics, gave foreigners a glimpse of a country that is filled with: Hope, Talent, Perseverance, Goodwill, and the Friendliest, Humblest (at least the majority of us) people that the world will ever know.

So I ask again, did Wade really shift the rand? Did a young 24-year-old make such an impact in the world? I can’t say for sure, but to all those doubters, cynics and disbelievers I challenge you to see the possibilities that are there in sport, life and every single moment. But from my side to Wade, Chad, Luvo, Cameron, Shaun, Lawrence, and all the blitzbokke thank you!! To the athletes that have completed thank you as well for making the world aware of our great country and to all those yet to compete, please please please strengthen the rand some more!!

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