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AB De Villiers busts the multi-sport myths
AB de Villiers is one of the most skilled cricketers on the planet but his hard working ethics and athleticism leave no doubt that he could excel in any sport he picks up. We fell for it too.
Widely circulated memes on social media list the other sports that AB made a mark in before dedicating himself to cricket and it was jaw dropping to see just what a prodigy AB was. But AB, humble as he is, decided to bust the myths spread by well-meaning fans in his recently released book, AB: The Autobiography.
Here are the myths and AB’s clarifications in his own words from his book, a must-read for every Challenger.
'De Villiers was shortlisted for the South African national hockey squad,'
In truth, I played hockey for one year at high school and was a member of the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool Under-16a team that beat our near neighbours and rivals at Pretoria Boys' High for the first time, but I was never shortlisted for the national hockey squad, or ever came remotely close to that level.
'De Villiers was shortlisted for the South African national football squad,'
I have never played any organised football (soccer). We used to kick a ball around during break at school and the game has become part of the Proteas' warm-up routine. That is all.
'De Villiers was the captain of South Africa junior rugby,'
I played rugby at primary school and high school, and enjoyed every minute, but I never represented South Africa at any level, either at SA Schools or SA Under-20, and was never captain.
'De Villiers is still the holder of six national school swimming records,'
As far as I recall, I did set an Under-9 breaststroke record at Warmbaths Primary School but I have never held any national school swimming records, not even for a day.
'De Villiers has the record fastest 100 metres time among South African junior sprinters,'
I did not sprint at all at school. Elsewhere on the Internet, to my embarrassment, there are articles in which the great sprinter Usain Bolt is asked which cricketer could beat him in a sprint and he replies 'AB de Villiers'.
Maybe, just maybe, I would beat him if I were riding a motorbike.
'De Villiers was a member of the national junior Davis Cup tennis team,'
As far as I know, there was no such entity as the national junior Davis Cup team, but I did play tennis as a youngster, loved the game and was occasionally ranked as the national No. 1 in my age group.
'De Villiers was a national Under-19 badminton champion,'
I never played badminton at school. If my memory is correct, I have only ever played one game of badminton in my entire life, and that was just a fun game with Mark Boucher.
'De Villiers received a national medal from Nelson Mandela for a science project,'
I never undertook any science project of any significance, certainly nothing to attract the attention of the president. I was privileged to meet Madiba twice, both times as a member of the Proteas squad.
'De Villiers plays off a handicap of scratch in golf,'
I played golf often as a youngster with my brothers and with my friends, without ever receiving a formal lesson. I have always loved the game and enjoy driving the ball a reasonable distance. One of my proudest moments occurred when I hit a drive down the middle of the fairway, past my elder brother's drive, and overheard Wessels and my father debating my swing and trying to understand why the ball travelled so far.
In any event, as I recall, I did get my official handicap down to a respectable one when I was 15 but there's not much time to play golf these days and my handicap has drifted to nine.
These are the facts: decent at golf, useful at rugby and tennis when I was young, and enjoying cricket ever since. The errors will doubtless remain on the Internet and people will continue to believe I was some kind of prodigy at all those different sports, but the truth will hopefully somehow endure.