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Luvo’s qualifying leap

By Mark Etheridge

Our world junior long jump champion Luvo Manyonga became the first South African long-jumper to qualify for next month’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea when he leapt to a fine 8.26 metre distance, a big personal best, in Finland on Saturday.

Manyonga was competing in the city of Jamsa at the annual carnival for jumpers. Until Saturday his previous best had been the 8.19m he jumped in Bottrop, Germany almost exactly a year ago. His new best mark is joint seventh best in the world this year, Australia’s Mitchell Watt having jumped furthest with an 8.44m in Melbourne three months ago.

He opened his campaign with a 7.86m effort and improved that to an 8.02 with his next jump. He was then red-flagged for his next two jumps before pulling out the big one with his fifth jump. His last jump was a 7.12 effort but the hard yards had already been made.

His 8.26m was good enough for victory in the competition, relegating Finnish athlete Tommi Evila to second spot with a 7.88m best on the day.

The A-qualifying standard for the World Championships is 8.20m and the B standard 8.10m. Beijing 2008 Olympics silver medallist as well as 2008 World Championships silver medallist, Khotso Mokoena, is yet to qualify for Daegu.

Speaking from Finland, Manyonga’s coach, Mario Smith said: “Luvo’s just as excited as I am. He says his winning jump was actually pretty easy and he knows he can go further. We’re training really hard here in Pajulahti and as you can see, it’s paying off.”

Manyonga won the junior world title in Moncton, Canada last year with a leap of 7.99m and told Road to London 2012 that he feels in 8.30m shape. His next meeting will be a return to Bottrop, Germany, scene of his previous personal best jump.

Another one of Smith’s athletes, Shaun de Jager ran a personal best 46.58sec for the 400m in Sollentuna, Sweden, late last week. That put him fifth spot behind Sudan’s Rabah Yousif (45.57) while De Jager’s fellow South African Sibusiso Sishi ran 46.68 in the same race.