Back in 1997, a little more than a year after returning from Saint-Étienne, where I got my first Ph.D., I was lecturing on sports physiology at the Basque Institute of Physical Education. Months before the schoolyear ended, I decided that I wanted to spend the summer doing research in one of the world’s reference centers: the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. I sent a letter to Prof. Tim Noakes and he kindly accepted my application. Besides getting a couple of publications (Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. and J. Appl. Physiol), cycling many 100-km laboratory time trials, giving away four muscle biopsies in my left vastus lateralis, and suffering the theft of a car and a bike, my time in South Africa gave me the opportunity to meet great people, discover a fabulous country and further my admiration for the country’s president of the time, Nelson Mandela.

It was not until January 2012 that I had another opportunity to visit South Africa, as a physiologist for the Spanish swimming team preparing for the London 2012 Olympic Games. During that trip, I bought the memoirs of Nelson Mandela, the greatest moral and political leader of our time. The book is called Long Walk to Freedom, and it is one of the most impressive books I have ever read. I consider it indispensable reading, full of experience, hope, dignity and greatness.

I know this is a long blogpost, the longest I’ve ever put together, but I would encourage every reader to take the time to read it. There are so many lessons for all of us to learn in the life and words of Nelson Mandela…

Read & comment ›››