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Manyonga back in the international spotlight at Rome Diamond League
- Updated: June 2, 2016
Former world junior long time champion Luvo Manyonga gets his first taste of international competition in five years in Rome on Thursday night where he’s one of eight South Africans honing their Rio Olympic preparations at the IAAF Diamond League meeting.
The last time the Tuks athlete landed in an international sandpit was back at the All African Games in Maputo, Mozambique on 15 September 2011 where he won with a jump of 8.02 metres.
A definite highlight was finishing fifth that same year at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea with a jump of 8.21m. It was the first and only time that he competed at a senior world championship.
The 25-year-old Manyonga, who trains at the High Performance Centre (HPC), is on a comeback after testing positive for the drug ‘tik’ in 2012.
He definitely didn’t waste any time in making his presence felt again. In his first competition of the season he qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio with a jump of 8.20m. It was his first competition in more than a year. At his next competition he jumped 8.30m, which is the fifth best of the season on the IAAF world rankings.
Unfortunately Manyonga derailed at the South African Championships in Stellenbosch. His only legal jump was 6.70 metres, which meant that he didn’t qualify for the final three jumps of the competition.
‘In a way I am glad it happened. It was just the wake-up call I needed. I now realise that I have to be really focussed when I’m competing at a major meeting. There will be time for fun and games afterwards,’ Manyonga said.
Manyonga realises that a good first jump in Rome will guarantee him another five jumps.
‘I’ll admit that I’m slightly nervous about competing internationally again, but it is a good kind of nervousness. It’s more a case of being very excited to be competing against the world’s best again.’
Manyonga is quietly confident that he will be able to jump farther than eight metres. ‘I did some big jumps during my training at the HPC and it is now just a matter of putting it into practice.’
Ruswahl Samaai, the current South African champion, will also be competing. His jump of 8.38m in Rabat is the second best of the international season so far.
Akani Simbine (Tuks/HPC) is another athlete who will be on a comeback in Rome. He will be racing the 100m. It’s the first time he’ll compete after injuring his hamstring in the 100m final at national championships in Stellenbosch in April.
According to Simbine he does not have any real expectations.
‘I’m confident that I’m in good shape but I am going to race with the attitude that it is my first race for the season. This means I’ll be running to see where I stand at the moment.
‘From Rome I’ll be going to Jamaica where Wayde van Niekerk and I will train with the renowned Glen Mills training group which includes the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.
‘We will also compete in the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston, which is being organised by Mills.’
Other leading South Africans who will be competing in Rome are: Victor Hogan (discus), Wenda Nel (400m hurdles), Caster Semenya (800m) and Sunette Viljoen (javelin).