Manyonga the first athlete from Africa to win gold in the long jump at World Championships

Luvo Manyonga in action in his club colors in Pretoria. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Luvo Manyonga proved the past weekend by winning the gold medal in the long jump at the IAAF World Championships in London that nothing is impossible in sport if you are prepared to put your mind to a specific goal and seriously work towards it.

The Tuks/HPC-athlete made athletics history by becoming the first athlete from Africa to win the long jump world title. He might also be one of very few athletes who managed to win the junior and senior world titles in the long jump.  Manyonga was the junior champion in 2010.

The fact that Ruswahl Samaai (South Africa) finished third with a best jump of 8.32m made everything from a South African perspective that bit more special.  It is the first time that two South African athletes medalled in the same event at the same world championships.

Jarion Lawson (USA) won the silver medal with an 8.44m attempt.

Before the World Championships Wayne Coldman who is Manyonga’s strength and conditioning coach predicted that a big surprise might await the international athletics community.

“For years everybody has been singing the praises of the American, Australian and European long jumpers but this season it has been Luvo Manyonga that has been pushing the boundaries. His exploits prove that success is not limited to certain countries, in the end, everything boils down to how much an athlete and his support team is prepared to sacrifice to succeed,” said Coldman.

Manyonga’s coach, Neil Cornelius, said winning a gold medal at a World Championships had been two and half years in the making for him and Manyonga.

“It is a dream come true for me Luvo. Don’t ask me how I feel at the moment because there are no words that can do justice to my feelings. I don’t even want to try and imagine how Luvo must be feeling at the moment. He is after all the guy that kept his cool when it mattered and made sure he got the big jumped that counted,” said Cornelius afterwards.

Cornelius confidently predicts that best is yet to come as far as Manyonga’s long jump exploits are concerned.

“He has not yet even come close to fulfilling his true potential as a long jumper. Watch this space, as they say, something really special is bound to happen.”

The long jump final boiled down to a classic scenario of when the going gets tough the tough get


Manyonga certainly did not have the best of starts to the competition as he over stepped with his first attempt.  Lawson started with a jump of 8.37, Aleksandr Menkov with 8.27m and Samaai with 8.25 so the pressure was on.

“We were never going to let that faze us as we believe in controlling the controllable meaning there is nothing we can do about what the other athletes are doing. Luvo always just focusses on his performance. The plan was to go big with the first jump to pressure the other athletes. When it did not work, we decided on a slightly safer approach, so I told Luvo just get something on the scoreboard. Luvo surprised me by jumping 8.48m. From then on we just focus on making sure that every jump counted,” said Cornelius.

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