Athletics world buzzing about Luvo Manyonga

Luvo Manyonga in action in the mens long jump during the ASA Senior Championships in Potchefstroom last month. Photo: Roger Sedres

Luvo Manyonga is extremely talented.”

After the Tuks-athlete’s performance on Saturday in Shanghai in which he jumped 8.61m to record his second victory in only three Diamond League-meetings this might sound like stating the obvious.

But sometimes it is not what is said that matters but who have said it.

Manyonga was being complimented by Randy Huntington who helped Mike Powell set a world record in 1991 jumping 8.95 metres in Tokyo.

Huntington, who is currently coaching in China, was watching the South African’s performance. He added to his compliment saying that he is sure that Manyonga is going to continue having fun this season.

The international athletics community is also starting to take note of Manyonga’s jumping feats. LaShawn Merritt (USA), an Olympic and World Championships medallist in the 400m, and Omar McLeod (Jamaica), an Olympic 110m-hurdles champion, congratulated him after his record breaking performance.

There is just reason why the Tuks athlete’s performances create such hype. The last time any athlete managed to jump 8.60 metres on three or more occasions in a season happened more than twenty years ago. Carl Lewis did so in 1987 and Ivan Pedroso in 1995. Both managed five 8.60m and further jumps.

A proud Neil Cornelius, Manyonga’s coach at TuksAthletics, said on average Manyonga is recording jumps of 8.58m. In the past four competitions that he has competed in so far his winning attempts were 8.46m, 8.62m, 8.65m and 8.61m.

According to Cornelius he could see how confident Manyonga was when he lined up for his last jump in Shanghai.

“He was smiling when he started his run-up. He knew before he even started that it was going to be a big one.”

Manyonga started of jumping 8.48 metres which was a meeting record. His second official jump was 8.49m followed by 8.61m. With his winning jump Manyonga also set a new Diamond League record.

Believe it or not but Manyonga was slightly disappointed afterwards.

“I didn’t get the distance I wanted today. I was looking for 8.80 metres but I guess I need to be patient. It will eventually happen. The track was really fast. That made it difficult and I did three fouls which was a distraction. But I should not complain. It is special to win at a Diamond League Meeting for a second time,” said Manyonga who also won last year in Brussels after jumping 8.48m.

In a conversation with Lee-Roy Newton (Agent) Manyonga remarked that athletics is called track and field. What concerns him is that the media tend to mainly focus on the track events. The challenge that he has set for himself is to revive long jump and get people talking about what is happening in the sand pit.

Newton compared Manyona’s achievements so far this season to that of Usain Bolt in 2008-2010.

“Luvo is busy shifting the barriers of international long jump to where a few people believe it is possible to go.”


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