One of the reasons why South African sports lags that in some other countries is because we do not have a written tradition. Few of our great players, coaches or administrators ever write about what they learned through their sport. So most of what is written is simply biographical and records achievements and events without analysis of why what happened, actually happened. It seems that the reading public are more interested in the “what” than in the “how” or, more importantly, the “why”. But slowly that is beginning to change and South African authored sports books that begin to answer the most fundamental question – the “why” – are beginning to appear.
Michael Marnewick’s book is a fine example of that new writing. By interviewing some of South Africa’s most eloquent sportsmen and women of high achievement and focusing on the “why” not the “what”, Michael has produced a work of real value. Those who aspire to follow in the steps of the greats that he interviews will begin to realise that there is more to success in sport than simply the daily practice of a physical task. Only when the brain is also fully activated is there a chance that the athlete will be good enough to challenge the world.
I do hope that his book will be widely read so that more South Africans can begin to understand how complex it is to produce champion athletes. The future of sport is in intellectualism as the stories of each of the athletes that he interviews so clearly shows. The days of the dumb coach or athlete being successful are numbered. The athletes and coaches that he interviews are sophisticated, intelligent, passionate and highly motivated individuals who would succeed in any task they might have chosen.
That perhaps is the hidden message of the book. It is an important message for South African sport.
I found Michael's book to be an enjoyable read and in addition I have taken a series of quotations from the book. Those quotations are very helpful for some of my talks. Congratulations on writing an excellent book.
Well done for having the courage, passion and discipline to produce what you have done.
Professor Tim Noakes
This book carries a powerful message about the important role sport plays in the development of a nation and what it takes to achieve success on the world stage
– John Smit
Get-It Magazine, March 2011
Sharks website manager and former media liaison officer Michael Marnewick has written over 7 000 articles for various media channels to date and recently released his first book entitled Quest for Glory.
With professional sportsmen and women like Naas Botha, Herschelle Gibbs, Mark Andrews and Penny Heyns sharing their secrets to success, all in one book, Quest for Glory is a must-have for South African sporting enthusiasts.
“For 10 years I’ve been interviewing rugby stars, and loving it, so it seemed a natural progression to write a book on a subject I am passionate about. I am living the dream with my work and am very fortunate to be one of only a few people who can say that,” says Michael.
Michael’s journalism career started when a local soccer side he supported had no one to provide news to the local community. Since then Michael has gone on to become intimately involved with professional sporting bodies such as The Sharks rugby team, SA Rugby and the International Rugby Board and has had the opportunity to gain insight into the sporting success of some of the greatest South African sporting heroes. Quest for Glory seeks to examine and find the answers to the sporting successes in South Africa through 23 high-profile successful sports personalities, whom Michael interviewed personally, to gain insight into the importance that sport plays in each of their lives.
Sporting heroes share their secrets to success in the book, which the author describes as an inspirational textbook for future generations of sporting greats.
Respected professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, Tim Noakes, recently reviewed the book and had this to say: “The athletes and coaches that he interviews are sophisticated, intelligent, passionate and highly motivated individuals who would succeed in any task they might have chosen.”
As a child, Michael was restricted from playing sports for two years due to hip disease and he admits that when he could finally play sports, he was like a jack-in-the-box, bursting with energy. “I spent almost every afternoon playing in the park with the kids in my neighborhood. It kept us out of trouble.”
Michael believes that sport is not only beneficial to your health but also provides camaraderie. He says through sports one can achieve a livelihood and attain glory.
“Those who aspire to follow in the steps of the greats that he interviews will begin to realise that there is more to success in sport than simply the daily practice of a physical task. Only when the brain is also fully activated is there a chance that the athlete will be good enough to challenge the world,” says Noakes.
Sports fans can look forward to at least eight more books, which have been approved by the publisher, including a special one he has planned for the younger market. “I am passionate about giving back and I wrote the book in a way that expands the interest groups and ages so that everyone has something to take out of the book.”
Monique De Villiers
The Mercury: Tuesday 21 December, 2010
Quest for Glory: Reviewed
Friday 17 December, 2010
Michael Marnewick is known to many of us as the brains (and passion) behind the best official rugby franchise website in the world, www.sharksrugby.co.za. One of the numerous perks associated with being a reasonably well-known sideline commentator is that I am occasionally asked to give my opinion about things, so when Michael’s début novel – entitled “Quest for Glory: Successes in South African Sport” – found its way to my little house, courtesy of the kind folks at Zebra Press, I considered it a real honour and privilege to provide my review of the work.
Let me start by saying this one thing: the amount of legwork (and donkey work) that has gone into compiling this treasure-trove of distilled wisdom is frankly immense. Having been privileged to share some of the author’s thoughts and swap the occasional email during the writing of his opus, I know some of the extent to which Michael has thrown his entire heart, soul and life into preparing this work – although I’m sure his wife and daughters will have noticed it far more! Michael has left no stone unturned in his quest to extract and consolidate the combined experiences of success from virtually every major sporting hero that South Africa has produced over the last 20 years or more. He has managed to find them all – from the old legends like Gary Player, Bruce Fordyce and Naas Botha, through to relatively recent heroes in Bismarck du Plessis and Herschelle Gibbs, without, of course, missing out on the stratospheric icons in between, including John Smit, Penny Heyns, Francois Pienaar and Baby Jake Matlala. I have some small amount of experience in the amount of effort (and dare I say hassle?) involved in getting to speak to the really famous and Michael has worked his network, painstakingly established over the last ten years, in order to get in front of the people whose voices really matter.
What is the gist of this work, then? Is it simply a bunch of interviews with the same bunch of men and women that, regardless of how legendary their status may be, have been interviewed many, many times before? The answer is that it is quite different to that, because its goal is different and far deeper than simple collecting and recalling anecdotes. Marnewick’s goal here is to attempt to define and crystallise exactly what it is, deep down, that has allowed those he has interviewed to attain success in their various fields. He begins by attempting to define a formula for success, a check-list of magical ingredients that must all be present, in the correct order and ratio, in order to propel a player, coach or team to the very highest peak of performance. He then systematically works through these ingredients or factors, and skilfully weaves the interview content around these threads. The result is a concise, coherent work that focuses on a single topic at a time and can thus be easily used as a reference when needed, despite being absolutely crammed with interesting anecdotes and personal accounts that reinforce each point he makes.
Those of you who know me will have come to realise that I am a rugby man through-and-through and that anything that has a flavour of Sharks rugby to it is likely to be right up my alley (to put it mildly). While this book is not a rugby book, per se, Marnewick’s clear love of the oval-ball game is evident and he is a passionate Sharks rugby man, with access to an enviable number personalities, both past and present, that have helped to make the Sharks great. Fellow Sharks fans will be pleased to know that Quest for Glory gives ample page-time to many of those who have served the black and white with distinction over the years, including Johann Muller, Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit, Mark Andrews, Bob Skinstad, Gary Teichmann, Brent Russell and current coach John Plumtree. Another familiar face who has added his wisdom is occasional Sharksworld contributor and mental coach Tim Goodenough, whose work behind-the-scenes with many pre-eminent South African sports stars (including the Sharks 2008 Super 14 side) is helping to overcome the psychological hurdles that so often impede athletes who have mastered the physical aspects of their chosen sport.
Quest for Glory is a must-read for anyone who loves sport – particularly South African sport – and has an interest in gaining a deeper insight into what has enabled so many of our heroes to attain success over their careers. Young sportsmen and women – those still at school or in the early stages of a professional career – would probably have the most to gain from the advice in the book, while parents, teachers and coaches – as well as social players of all levels – would do well peruse its pages too, because much emphasis is placed on the support systems that any successful athlete must have in place in order to attain greatness. Did I mention that it’s fascinating insight into the minds of so many South African sporting greats that, in addition to being a “workshop manual” for those in the game, it makes a great read for armchair enthusiasts like you and me?
All-round, a superb first book from a superb writer who will, I’m sure, go on to publish many more titles in the future.
Sophie Kennedy, School of Law and Justice, Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia)
In addition to telling and interpreting the athletes’ stories and intellectualising sport, which he has indeed done excellently, from the “writing” perspective, it is not easy to blend many voices and still have a voice of your own, and I think Michael has done this extraordinarily well.
Looking forward to more!
The Natal Witness: Thursday 25 November, 2010
Quest for glory: Successes in SA sport
Wed, 01 Dec 2010 17:17
This is a book with a difference. A delightful read that takes a different look at South African sport. Unlike most books Quest for Glory investigates the role that sporting success plays in the South African society.
We have all read, at length, about the 1995 and 2007 World Cup triumphs - from the players' perspective. Those were also delightful reads.
However, Quest for Glory is a more insightful, entertaining and inspiring book that goes further and uncovers the key to those sporting successes.
It examines sporting success through the eyes of numerous South African sports personalities - including Gary Player, Bruce Fordyce, Penny Heyns, Ryk Neethling, Baby Jake Matlala, Naas Botha, François Pienaar, Gary Teichmann, Bob Skinstad, John Smit, Paul Treu, Shaun Pollock, Oscar Pistorius, Clive Barker and Tim Noakes.
We all know that sport has the ability to take us through the entire range of emotions: from excitement and jubilation to disappointment and downright anguish, and everything in between.
But why and how did South Africa win the big tournaments and the big races?
At a time when we are flooded with biographies and autobiographies, which record the facts and give some comments, it is great to have something that delves a bit deeper.
It does tell us a bit more about what makes us function as a sporting nation.
In the words of Springbok captain John Smit: "This book carries a powerful message about the important role sport plays in the development of a nation and what it takes to achieve success on the world stage."
Title: Quest for glory: Successes in SA sport
Edited by Michael Marnewick
Published by Zebra Press
By Jan de Koning
The Sharks Magazine - December, 2010
Sunday Times - Sunday 12 December, 2010
DESPITE what appears to be a sweeping title, Michael Marnewick's book does much more than randomly track successful South Africans.
With the foreword by one John William Smit, thanks in no small part to Marnewick's Sharks connections, it's a book that punches above the weight of its title by getting into the minds of SA's sporting greats in their efforts to be the best, the act of becoming the best and the aftermath of achieving greatness.
An example is the Proteas' "438" game. It's a beginning that sets the tone for the kind of "success" the author is referring to.
It also lays down a marker with a surprisingly lucid account, and analysis, of that game from the perspective of Herschelle Gibbs, who admitted to being hung over on the morning of the game.
The book is an audit of everything that goes into winning, be it in SA sport or sport in general. Where it does well is how the analysis is done: through anecdotal evidence from the vast array of world-beaters this country has unearthed.
The stories from Gary Player, Bruce Fordyce, Tim Noakes, Mark Andrews etc, give the reader a ringside view of what happened when they shaped their destiny, and an insight into the mentality that led to that eventuality.
Marnewick also seeks to quantify the influence of such intangibles as the Madiba Magic and BMT, something that vexes us once every cricket World Cup.
It's an easy read and sheds new light on events and achievements we already hold dear.
- Simnikiwe Xabanisa
"New book by Mike Marnewick called Quest for Glory with foreword written by John Smit is out and is a great read for young sportsman!"
- Tweeted by Former Proteas spin bowler and swashbuckling batsman Pat Symcox
Queensburgh News: Friday 26 November, 2010
Quest for glory!
Editor on November 5, 2010
Durban North’s Michael Marnewick, who’s worked in the Sharks’ media back room for close to 10 years, launches his first book – featuring a number of top SA sports personalities – on Thursday, November 11 at Books & Books, shop 42 Kensington Square, Durban North.
Titled Quest for Glory, Marnewick’s debut effort examines sporting success through the eyes of top South African sports personalities, including Gary Player, Bruce Fordyce, Penny Heyns, Ryk Neethling, Gary Teichmann, John Smit, Shaun Pollock, Oscar Pistorius and football coach Clive Barker.
Barker will be the guest speaker at the launch event which kicks off at 6pm for 6.30pm.
“A good friend of mine summed it up well recently when he said to me, ‘You know, you have my dream job’, said Michael, whose primary day job is to run the Natal Sharks website, Sharks Rugby (www.sharksrugby.co.za). Michael has also served as media liaison officer, for example on the 2008/9 tour down under, and his company runs a number of smaller websites for clients.
“Natal people live and breathe rugby and I’m very privileged to work with and know the great rugby players and personalities we have here at the Sharks,” he said. “What’s really interesting for me is that sometimes the going is tough, the public doesn’t see all the trials and tribulations, and all the small victories that make up the great success story that is the Sharks. It’s a fascinating environment and a huge amount of work behind the scenes goes into making the Sharks what it is today.”
Michael’s experiences with this top rugby brand have led him to write more than 5 500 articles (he also occasionally contributes to newspapers) and he’s been itching to put together a book for years.
Quest for Glory is broadly a sports book, it’s not just about the Sharks. The writer converses with top names in SA sport to discuss the importance of sport in young lives, how we live vicariously through the actions and conquests of our heroes and can learn from their achievements. “We are a nation of sports fanatics and the book will address the issues surrounding success and failure on fields, swimming pools and golf courses around the world,” he says.
There are too many big names to mention here, but some of those who gave their time to help this book see the light of day are Mark Andrews (Rugby World Cup winner’s medal – 1995); Penny Heyns (Olympic swimming champion); John Smit, Gary Teichmann, Naas Botha, Francois Pienaar, Bob Skinstad (Springbok captains); Herschelle Gibbs (Proteas’ batsman), Henning Gericke (Springbok sports psychologist – 2007 Rugby World Cup); Paul Treu (SA Sevens’ coach – world champions 2008/2009); Oscar Pistorius (paralympic world champion); Clive Barker (Bafana Bafana coach – African Cup of Nations champions); Gary Player (golfing legend), Ryk Neethling (swimming champion) and Professor Tim Noakes.
Noakes when approached to contribute to the book wrote: “I would be happy to help in any way possible. These books are terribly important for the future of SA sport.”
And there’s a foreword by local hero and rugby warrior, the most capped Bok captain of all time John Smit: What more could you ask for?
Michael was born and bred in Durban and went to school at Glenwood High. He completed a degree in Psychology before trying his hand at pig farming, washing dishes in London before returning to SA for a stint of farming. When Canon withdrew from its sponsorship of the Sharks in 1999, Michael saw an opportunity to get involved in starting a new website for the brand. He was eventually brought on on a full time basis and today is an important part of the Sharks setup.
“I’m living the dream . . . and part of the dream was to publish my own book,” he says. “I spoke to former sports editor of The Witness John Bishop and he suggested I contact Random House/Struik. I’ve worked really hard and am chuffed that it’s finally all coming together.”
A sports fanatic at school, “but I wasn’t really any good”, Michael is married to Candiese, and they have two children, Julia (5) and Mia (1).
Northglen News: Friday 12 November, 2010