Luvo Manyonga on a mission to steal the show
The Olympic medallist plans to get close to 8.95m world record at SA Athletics Championships
Move over Wayde van Niekerk‚ step aside Caster Semenya — the big-talking long-jumping Luvo Manyonga is threatening to steal the show at the South African Athletics Championships in Potchefstroom this weekend.
"Everyone must come witness the best long jump in the world‚" said the silver medallist from the 2016 Rio Olympics‚ already No1 on the world list by nearly half-a-metre with the 8.62m effort he nailed in Pretoria in March.
"I’m going to steal the show on Saturday.… I’m getting bored waiting," he said.
Manyonga will be one of four current Olympic medallists helping to push the quality of the 2017 edition to unprecedented heights.
Five sub-10sec sprinters will line up in the men’s 100m on Friday. Olympic 400m champion Van Niekerk‚ with a 9.98sec personal best‚ is far from being the favourite in the 100m‚ where Akani Simbine (9.89) has the inside track against Thando Roto (9.95)‚ Henricho Bruintjies (9.97) and six-time champion Simon Magakwe‚ who went 9.98 in 2014 before refusing a doping test, which resulted in a two-year ban.
Three sub-20sec stars will face off in the 200m on Saturday‚ with Simbine again the frontrunner with his season’s best of 19.95.
Van Niekerk (19.94) and injury-plagued Anaso Jobodwana (19.87) have been faster‚ but not since 2015.
Olympic 800m queen Semenya is going for the 400m and 800m double and silver medallist Sunette Viljoen should be unmatchable in the women’s javelin.
But Manyonga says his performance will be the one to watch‚ saying he intends to get close to the 8.95m world record set by Mike Powell from the US in 1991.
"[My] distance is going to be close to 9m‚" Manyonga said this week. "My aim is not really to break [the world record] at SAs‚ but I’m focusing on going close‚" added the talented jumper‚ who met Powell at the 2010 world junior championships, where he won the long-jump crown.
"We had a long chat and I thought this is a calling for me because I was born in the same year [he set the record] and I felt I would be the first person who is going to break his record.
"After I told him I’d break his world record‚ he said I have the potential. He was telling me I must keep on jumping‚ I can change the long jump game."
Even the coach of Ivan Pedrosa has spotted Manyonga’s talent‚ saying: "He will be the first person to jump 9m."
Manyonga’s career was derailed after testing positive for tik in 2012‚ earning him an 18-month ban. He has spent most of the past year living in a rehabilitation facility and said he was beating his demons.
He hopes all his main long-jump rivals — 2008 Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena‚ Ruswahl Samaai and Zarck Visser — will be in action in Saturday’s competition.
"May the best win‚" Manyonga said. And who’s the best? "I’m the best."