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Manyonga’s comeback continues with second big leap in just a week
- Updated: March 12, 2016
Luvo Manyonga’s comeback from his darkest days continued in brilliant fashion on Friday as he set a personal best long jump distance of 8.30 metres.
Manyonga was competing at the Gauteng North Athletics Championships at Pilditch and it’s now the second time in seven days that he has managed to better the qualification distance for the Olympics in Rio later this year.
Smiling throughout the competition, the Tuks athlete who trains at the HPC had a modest start to his competition recording only 6.44m with his first jump.
His second jump was a no-jump before he moved up over the eight-metre mark (8.09). His fourth attempt was again a no-jump and then he let ‘rip’ with a massive jump. Afterwards he celebrated in style doing a backwards somersault. ‘This is my life. I absolutely love competing in the long jump,’ an elated Manyonga said.
Asked about that big jump he said: ‘I won’t say my 8.30m was easy, but it felt good. The reason why I’m able to consistently have good jumps is because I really believe in my own ability and I’m not obsessed about distance. I just jump because I enjoy doing so. All that matters is to make sure that my technique is faultless when I compete. If I can get that right, the big jumps will happen.’
Judging by Olympic long jump results since 1996, Manyonga certainly has a realistic chance to medal.
‘As I have said, distances are not important to me at the moment. My main goal is to make sure that I’m selected to compete in Rio. Once that’s done my focus will be on qualifying for the final. Anything can happen once you are in the final.’
The 25-year-old Manyonga, who is on a comeback after being banned for testing positive for the devastating recreational drug ‘tik’ in 2012, said the main reason his life did not spiral totally out of control after his positive test was his four-year-old son, Lindokehle.
‘I will not be able to live with myself knowing that I have let my son down. He is the key to my success. I want him to be proud of his dad. Athletics for me is a way to ensure that Lindokehle will never be in need of anything and that he will get a good education.
‘I was told that Lindokehle has already bragged to his friends about his dad being on television. It is special to know that I am doing something that makes him proud.’
Asked if he has any regrets about his previous misdemeanours, Manyonga said: ‘I used to have regrets and there were many days when I wished I had not given in to the temptation. But last year I realised that to keep on blaming myself for what has happened does not serve any purpose.
‘It’s defeatist and only made me unhappy. I also realised that what has happened has happened. Yesterday is dead and I can do nothing to undo the past. It is what happens tomorrow that is important.
‘Therefore I am very grateful for the way SASCOC, the HPC and Tuks Athletics have been supporting me since last year.’
Picture of a trimphant Manyonga, courtesy of Reg Caldecott