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Luvo leaps to new national long jump record

Manyonga

Luvo Manyonga soared into South African athletics history at the University of Pretoria on Friday night, setting a new national long jump record of 8.62 metres.

Competing at the Gauteng North Championships at the University of Pretoria, Manyonga beat three-time Olympian Khotso Makoena’s previous mark, set in Madrid eight years ago, by an impressive 12 centimetres.

The good news is that the Rio Olympics silver medallist made it clear that he is capable of jumping much further. In fact, he has his sights firmly set on the world record of 8.95 metres set by Mike Powell (USA) in 1991 in Tokyo. According to him it is high time that somebody improves on it.

‘It has been way too long since anybody has come close to jumping nine metres. It is something I want to rectify. I know that I am capable of jumping much further, but I don’t want to set a date to when I am going to do so.

‘All I’m prepared to say, is that no record should last for ever. I fully realise that this record is going to be improved at some stage by a young talented athlete. And I will be happy for whoever does so because that is how it works in athletics.’

Neil Cornelius (TuksAthletics coach) battled to find the right words to describe Manyonga’s jump.

‘I knew Luvo was going to improve on Khotso’s record but I expected it to be by just a centimetre or two. Not in my wildest imagination did I think he will do so by 12 centimetres. That jump of his was ‘flippen amazing’. Really, really far. Luvo has in fact equalled the Commonwealth record set by James Beckford (Jamaica) in 1997.

‘You should see the video that somebody took of me just after Luvo’s amazing leap. I was totally out of control. I just could not help myself because I was so excited.’

Cornelius’ advice to Manyonga right before he got ready for his first attempt was: ‘Just make sure that it counts, because with one good jump you gain five more attempts.’

Manyonga did better than that. He jumped 8.62m. Actually he was once again ‘Mr Consistency’ as he had been two weeks ago when he jumped 8.46m in Bloemfontein. His second attempt was measured at 8.29 metres, followed by two jumps of 8.34metres. He then called it quits because he was hindered by a slight ankle strain.

‘It is nothing serious – we just did not want to take any unnecessary risks, especially since Luvo has achieved what he set out to do and that was to improve the record,’ explained Cornelius.

Manyonga will only be in action one more time in South Africa. It will be at next month’s South African Championships in Potchefstroom. He has already been invited to compete at the Shanghai Diamond League Meeting.

There was more excellence on Friday night as teenager Sokwakhana Zazini set a new World Youth 400m Hurdles record, clocking 48.84sec to win the Under-18 men’s one-lap hurdles final.

The 16-year-old Tuks Sport High School student took 0.17sec off the 10-year-old world youth best of 49.01 previously held by American athlete William Wynne.

While fellow South African LJ van Zyl clocked 48.89 at the age of 16 to win the world junior title in 2002, his performance was not considered for record purposes as he was competing in an U-20 event.

Picture of Manyonga celebrating his new SA record in style courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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