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Manyonga eyes the competition scene after serving ban

Former long jump junior world champion, Luvo Manyonga, is keen to start jumping again after having recently served an 18-month ban for doping.

The plan was for Manyonga to compete at a meeting at the University of Stellenbosch this week, but at the last moment coach, Mario Smit, decided that it was not worth taking any unnecessary risks at this stage.

Manyonga’s promising long jump career came to an abrupt halt in April last year after he had tested positive for the drug methamphetamine, commonly known as tik.

He was banned for 18 months by Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS), but that ban expired officially on 20 September. This technically means that he is allowed to compete again.

Smit said: ÔÇ£I don’t want Luvo to compete at any meeting before we have received the official go-ahead from SAIDS. I have contacted them, but we have not yet received any official indication of what Luvo’s current status as an athlete is.

ÔÇ£It is actually important for us to know whether or not he is eligible to start competing again, because he hopes to qualify for the World Indoor Championship next year.ÔÇØ

According to Smit he made sure that Manyonga did not forget what it takes to be a good long jumper while he was banned. ÔÇ£Because he was not allowed to train with a group he did most of his training on his own.ÔÇØ

Smit is confident that Manyonga will be able to jump anything between 7.70m and 7.90m in his first competition. ÔÇ£My main challenge is to get Luvo to believe in his own abilities again. At this stage he is quite nervous about competing again and that is why I want him to compete as often as possible to help him regain his confidence.ÔÇØ

Manyonga is a former Junior World Championship champion. Then, during his first year as a senior athlete, he finished fifth at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

His personal best distance of 8.26 metres makes him the third best South African long jumper of all time. Only Khotso Mokoena (8.50m) and Zarck Visser (8.32m) can boast with better distances.

The battle for long jump supremacy between these three athletes could be one of the highlights of the 2014 South African season.