Manyonga to target world mark in Alps
New world champion plans to break 8.95m long-jump record at high altitude competition
Newly crowned world champion Luvo Manyonga will have a crack at the 8.95m long-jump world record at a specially arranged jumps meet in the French Alps next week.
The competition on Wednesday will be staged at 3,032m above sea level at the bottom of the Grande Motte glacier at Tignes, which offers year-round skiing, using a sand pit.
"If there’s a chance of Luvo breaking the record, it will be at this meet because of the altitude," coach Neil Cornelius said at a media briefing in London featuring his charge Manyonga and long-jump bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai. "It’s going to happen eventually," said the coach. "We will get a big jump."
The two world marks before Mike Powell’s record from 1991 were set at altitude, both in Mexico City, in 1967 and 1968.
US triple-jump star Christian Taylor will also be in action
Manyonga and Samaai, both products of Paarl, have already returned to full training as they prepare to see out the rest of their season, but they are also dreaming of taking their parents on holiday.
Manyonga, 26, wants to take his retrenched forklift operator father and domestic worker mother to Mauritius, while Samaai, 25, is thinking of taking his factory worker mom on a sea cruise in local waters.
"I wanted [her] to stop working, I want to work for her," said Manyonga, owner of the 8.65 national mark. "But my mom doesn’t want to stop working."
He is also planning on slaughtering a calf on his return to the Western Cape and visiting the Eastern Cape to give thanks to his ancestors.
Samaai is looking forward to playing golf in the off-season.
Both admitted to being surprised by the people who had congratulated them.
Manyonga, the Olympic silver medallist who missed gold by 1cm in 2016, said he had asked Portuguese triple jumper Patricia Mamona if he could take a picture with her.
"Then she said: ‘No, I want to take a picture with the champ’, and I was like ‘what? She wants to take a picture with me’.
"Even [Sam] Kendricks, the pole-vaulter, we played pool at the Nike hospitality.
"He said ‘let’s bet [using] our medals’, like it’s so cool. I also played with the steeplechaser from Kenya. I beat him four times in a row.
"My icons come to me and ask to take a picture with me. It’s like a dream come true."
Samaai said he had received messages from long-jumpers he had looked up to, including three former Olympic gold medallists.
"Even [Ivan] Pedroso [Cuba’s former] four-time world champion, Dwight Phillips [US’s former four-time world champion] and Greg Rutherford.
"These are guys I basically studied all my life just to see what they’re doing, how they do certain things. And now I’m getting messages from these guys," he said, explaining he felt too shy to approach them when seeing them in person.
Both believed that SA’s long-jump explosion started with Khotso Mokoena, who won Olympic silver in 2008 as well as ending up as runner-up at the World Championships the following year. "He opened up the floodgates," said Samaai, who also inspired Manyonga, the 2010 world under-20 long-jump champion.
Samaai ended ninth at the Rio Games in 2016, where he competed with a grade two hamstring injury.
Manyonga said that when he was out of the sport, during his 18-month ban for tik and subsequent battle against addiction, he watched Samaai win the Commonwealth Games bronze in 2014.
Zarck Visser took the Games silver behind Rutherford three years ago.
"I watched Khotso Mokoena in 2008 and I jumped against him in 2010 in front of my family in Bellville and I won," recalled Manyonga with a smile. "We’re [all] chasing each other."