Luvo bounces back with a knockout long jump
Manyonga’s Games record leap earned Team SA a gold to add to one silver and three bronze medals for the day
Luvo Manyonga delivered when it mattered most at Gold Coast on Wednesday night — under pressure and staring the spectre of defeat straight in the face.
The men’s long jump title was supposed to be his for the taking‚ but when Australian Henry Frayne soared to 8.33m to take the lead in the second round‚ it looked as though the script had been tailor-made for the partisan fans in the Carrara Stadium.
This was a gold mine for the Aussies on Wednesday‚ winning several events‚ including the women’s javelin and the men’s F38 shot put‚ where Sunette Viljoen and Reinhardt Hamman took bronze behind two Australians. Heck‚ even across town at the lawn bowls SA’s visually impaired pair were beaten by Australians.
World champion Manyonga and World Championship bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai were SA’s last hopes to get a gold‚ and there was an Aussie standing in the way.
Frayne scored the first real blow to push Manyonga into second and Samaai third. But like a felled boxer‚ Manyonga rose with purpose in his heart and struck back in the fourth round‚ leaping to an 8.35m Games record.
That did the damage‚ with the homeboy no-jumping his last two attempts‚ but Manyonga was not done yet. He wanted the knockout. He rocketed to 8.41m on his final take-off to make his point.
“I really like that. It’s the competition that pushes you to do better. When he took the lead‚ I said to myself: ‘Is this the end?’ No‚” said Manyonga‚ adding that he needed a little time to get used to the track.
He had only one jump in the qualifying round the day before.
Samaai did not record a single no-jump and four times he cleared 8m‚ with 8.22m on his second leap bagging the bronze‚ SA’s third on the day. That is the same colour he took in 2014.
“I’m not happy. I came here with a lot of expectation. I got a bronze in Glasgow and I wanted to upgrade to silver or gold.”
But there is no disgrace in consistency either. Frayne‚ who has struggled with injury for much of his career‚ had only praise for Manyonga.
“He’s a true champion and he responded like one.”
Team SA’s five medals on the day — one gold‚ one silver and three bronze — lifted the team to fourth on the medals table‚ above New Zealand‚ Canada and Scotland.
But they were dealt a blow after Anaso Jobodwana fell out of his blocks as the gun sounded. Officials discussed the issue‚ and he was shown a green card and permitted to run. But he was later disqualified for a false start. The SA team’s attempt to appeal came to naught.
That leaves Clarence Munyai as the only South African hope in the 200m‚ although he did not look happy coming off the track after his semifinal‚ declining to talk to journalists on his way through the mixed zone.
Also in action on Thursday are Wenda Nel in the women’s 400m hurdles final‚ Hilton Langenhoven and Ndodomzi Ntutu in the T12 100m. In the bowls, SA’s disabled triple take on England for a bronze and Petrus Breitenbach and the women’s pair contest in the quarterfinals.