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Is mighty Manyonga the world’s first nine-metre man?

Manyonga

Two big milestones left in international men’s athletics are: possibly running a sub two-hour marathon and jumping further than nine metres.

Watch this space, as they say – Luvo Manyonga has done in the last four weeks what no other long jumper has done since 2009. That is, to jump further than 8.60 metres.

He’s done so on two occasions. Last weekend at the South African Championships in Potchefstroom he jumped 8.65m to set a new national and African record. Prior to that, at the Gauteng North Championships, he jumped 8.62m.

According to his agent Lee-Roy Newton, the Tuks-athlete has not even come close to fulfilling his true potential, and he believes the question is no longer whether Manyonga can jump nine metres, but rather when he will jump nine metres.

Newton’s confidence stems from drawing comparisons between the world record-holder Mike Powell’s (US), magical world-breaking year and what Manyonga has achieved so far this season.

‘In 1991, when Powell jumped 8.95m to set a new world record at the Tokyo World Championships, he started his season by jumping 8.33m in May. He then averaged distances of 8.40m, leading up to the World Championships,’ explained Newton.

‘Luvo started his season with a jump of 8.40m followed by a jump of 8.62m and now at the national championships he jumped 8.65m. So, it’s clear at this stage that he’s ticking all the right “boxes” to jump close to nine metres. I can confidently say he is capable of even going past nine metres.’

Interesting to note that the TuksAthletics jumper was born in 1991, the same year Powell set the world alight with his massive jump. To be precise, Manyonga was a mere eight months old when that happened.

Manyonga is quite confident of his capabilities and believes that he has what it takes to jump further than nine metres. ‘You can say it is my calling to jump nine metres, but I never focus on a specific distance when I compete. The only thing that matters is to ensure that I master all the small aspects in my technique. If I do that, I know that the big jump will happen,’ said Manyonga.

Neil Cornelius (Tuks Coach) and Wayne Coldman (HPC conditioning coach) both say the distance Manyonga has jumped so far is due to pure talent.

‘We’ve not started with the next level of training, which focuses on what is needed for him to be really competitive. To be honest, I would say we have done around 50% of the training he needs to do before the World Championships,’ explained Coldman.

Cornelius agrees. ‘It’s important for Luvo and I not to get obsessed about the distance. Last year we made that mistake. We wanted to go big every time he competed. That led to him “bombing” out at last year’s national championship.

‘The past weekend at the South African championship we only had one goal and that was to win gold. Luvo had to make sure that his first jump counted. We believe that with a good first attempt you ‘buy’ five more jumps. There are still a few small little things in Luvo’s technique which we need to work on before he moves to the next level.’

Manyonga’s next competition will be the Shanghai Diamond League on 14 May.

Picture of Manyonga in Potchefstroom action courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA


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