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Manyonga is Team SA’s man of the moment with a memorable silver

By Mark Etheridge

One tiny centimetre stood between Team South Africa’s first gold medal at these 2016 Olympic Games after long jumper Luvo Manyonga leapt to the rainbow nation’s fourth silver on Saturday night.
Until now, swimming (three) and rowing (one) have brought silverware to the medals table while sevens rugby served up a bronze.
And for a few yawning minutes Manyonga’s sixth and final leap of 8.37 metres seemed to have broken the gold drought.
Almost too scared to watch, Manyonga lay flat on his back gazing up into the Rio night as he dared to dream of gold.
And then it all came down to earth again as American Jeff Henderson turned South Africa’s golden hopes into silver with a final jump of his own that saw him launch himself 8.38m into the sandpit and seal the gold.
Manyonga’s mission to get here in the first place though is pure gold in itself as, after winning long jump gold at the World Junior Championships in Canada back in 2010, sank into the pits of despair brought on by a rapid addiction to recreational drug tik.
That saw him served with an 18-month ban which put him on the sidelines. There was also further personal heartache as one of the men who believed in him most ardently, Maties athletics coach Mario Smith, was killed in a car crash in mid 2014. It was Smith who took Manyonga under his wings and gave him a place to live and put food on his table.
Manyonga played credit to two men in particular who have played a part in his remarkable Phoenix-like rise.
‘I don’t know where he is right now but this one is definitely for you, coach Mario,’ he said shortly after his silver effort. ‘And Mr Gideon Sam, the SASCOC President, has always stood by me and for this I thank him.
‘And I must also thank my mom Joyce and my son Lindokhule (he’s five years old)… it’s too early in the morning SA time to phone them but they’ll be hearing from me very soon.’
Manyonga also thanked the HPC in Pretoria and Tukssport for standing by him and believing in him. ’The demons have been trying to pull me down but look at my face… look at me standing here.
‘When I jumped 8.28 in my fourth attempt I wasn’t nervous, even though it gave me the lead. I was relaxed, and I just knew the big jump was coming.’
What’s next up for Manyonga, the life and soul of every travelling athletics group he joins on international duty. ‘That will be Brussels and long term I’m still wanting that world record. It’s coming.’
Sports fans back home will be hoping that Mayonga’s comeback from the sinkhole to silver will inspire the rest of Team South Africa to strike gold for the first time at these Games.

Picture of Manyonga’s moment, courtesy of Getty Images


92 Comments

  1. Annelie Roets

    August 14, 2016 at 4:25 am

    Well done. Young ones can look up to you for what you have achieved with your life! Well done!

  2. Lindy Miller

    August 14, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Brilliant. Well done !!!!!

  3. Merchell Fourie

    August 14, 2016 at 4:29 am

    What a terrific final U0001f3c6 well done ManyongaU0001f3c6

  4. Kim Holiday

    August 14, 2016 at 4:40 am

    Fantastic achievement U0001f1ffU0001f1e6

  5. Glynis Mauldon

    August 14, 2016 at 4:48 am

    What a story to wake up to…fantastic…as Madiba said “nothing is impossible until it is done”

  6. Jackie Breed

    August 14, 2016 at 4:49 am

    Well done Luvo …

  7. Leanne Clarke Ross

    August 14, 2016 at 4:54 am

    So awesome to watch – well done Luvo!!!

  8. Tawane Mauwane

    August 14, 2016 at 5:01 am

    Congratulations, bring the minerals home

  9. Lilla Skinner Coetzee

    August 14, 2016 at 5:03 am

    Brilliant and he missed gold by 1cm!

  10. Michelle Mayo

    August 14, 2016 at 5:06 am

    That’s just awesome, and reading his story makes his achievement just so much more meaningful – you are a winner, Sir!

  11. Mthoko Ntanzi

    August 14, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Congrats boi am still praying for a Gold medals

  12. RinaNorman Belcher

    August 14, 2016 at 5:10 am

    Inspirational tale! Well done!!!!!

  13. FrancoisenDalene Potgieter

    August 14, 2016 at 5:13 am

    mooi man! congrats all the way from New Zealand!!!!

  14. Ntsakani Baloyi

    August 14, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Wow so proud of u

  15. Grobbelaar Andre En Tania

    August 14, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Riveting stuff!!!!! Soooo proud!

  16. Carol Ann Searra

    August 14, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Proudly South African U0001f1ffU0001f1e6

  17. Jade Cunningham

    August 14, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Wow, brilliant man! Congrats…super proud.

  18. Gaynor Chapman

    August 14, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Congrats well done

  19. Thembile Shazi

    August 14, 2016 at 5:35 am

    Congrats Luvo!!! #ProudOfYou #GoTeamSA

  20. Lynette Stais

    August 14, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Inspirational! Congratulations U0001f3c6U0001f3c6U0001f3c6

  21. Eugen Nadav Bergh

    August 14, 2016 at 5:45 am

    He was so close to gold, but silver is better than expected. A job well done

  22. Peter Jonsson

    August 14, 2016 at 5:49 am

    BRILLIANT… CONGRATULATIONS !!!!

  23. Elizabeth Parent Savides

    August 14, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Why did he not use his last jump?

  24. Brenda Allely

    August 14, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Congrats wonderful achievrement and a very inspirational story.

  25. Ayanda Dave Sox

    August 14, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Well done young man! !!

  26. Debbie Warren Rugg

    August 14, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Well done !!!

  27. Louis Van Wyk

    August 14, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Net 1cm tussen goud en silverU0001f648

  28. Sasa The-Dee Dama

    August 14, 2016 at 5:58 am

    WOW very nice,well done.

  29. June Held

    August 14, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Well done Manyonga!

  30. Irene Birch

    August 14, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Well done! Wonderful.

  31. Lynn Davis

    August 14, 2016 at 6:09 am

    So close! But still so awesome – congratulations!

  32. Rita Du Plessis

    August 14, 2016 at 6:18 am

    How fantastic, you make us proud.

  33. Renee Thomas

    August 14, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Well done. We are proud of you……..

  34. Theresa Richards

    August 14, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Awesome. So proud of him. That is not an easy road.

  35. Melanie Askeland

    August 14, 2016 at 6:25 am

    well done, we are all so proud of you

  36. Andre Sinclair

    August 14, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Fantastic! Could touch the gold for a while there!! Well done Luvo and coach Neil

  37. Wendie White

    August 14, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Awesome! Congratulations U0001f44fU0001f3fcU0001f44fU0001f3fc#teamsa

  38. Shannon Paul

    August 14, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Fantastic. So proud of you and what you have achieved. Congratulations on beating your daemons, and bringing home that silver.

  39. Cindy Strauss

    August 14, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Well done. South Africa is proud of you.

  40. Andre Van Vuuren

    August 14, 2016 at 6:48 am

    What a story and Journey ! Proud moment for us and go get that world record for us please ?U0001f37eU0001f336U0001f37eU0001f336

  41. Giselle Fasher

    August 14, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Awesome! Congratulations…your hard work had paid off! U0001f60a

  42. Niki Neophytou

    August 14, 2016 at 6:54 am

    Well done Manyonga! We all so proud of you your story is an inspiration to our youth.

  43. Jen Logan

    August 14, 2016 at 6:55 am

    What an amazing story.

  44. Shanon Agulhas

    August 14, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Congratulations! You have beat the odds and worked hard for this moment!

  45. Joh Meyer

    August 14, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Danie Cornelius saam met julle trots, baie geluk!! Groete

  46. Karen Zerbini

    August 14, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Well done……you guys make us and S.A. so proud…..Great work.

  47. Glynnis Coetsee

    August 14, 2016 at 7:14 am

    proudly south Africa well done young man

  48. Janine Taylor

    August 14, 2016 at 7:21 am

    So proud of him

  49. Charlie Pretorius

    August 14, 2016 at 7:27 am

    Congrats, such an achievement. So proud!

  50. Kim Charles

    August 14, 2016 at 7:31 am

    That is the best story so proud of this incredible young man xxx

  51. Gift Mpho T Mpiti

    August 14, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Well done U0001f44fU0001f44fU0001f44fU0001f44fU0001f44fU0001f44f

  52. Stuart Morrison

    August 14, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Well done young man. Congratulations

  53. Lesley Munro van Staden

    August 14, 2016 at 7:46 am

    You have your eye on gold. You will get there. Congratulations. You have done us proud.

  54. Jinty Torr Ford

    August 14, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Flipping fantastic you beaut!!!!! What a phenomenal achievement!!!

  55. Debbie Botha Hughes

    August 14, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Wow we are so proud of you, really thought you had gold in the bag, but still an incredible achievement U0001f44dU0001f3fc

  56. Mahle Dlamini

    August 14, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Congrats so proud

  57. Gert Maree

    August 14, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Great stuff! Congratulations!

  58. Elmien Grobbelaar

    August 14, 2016 at 8:29 am

    he was Great!! you are SA’s Golden boy!!

  59. Jim Yeomans

    August 14, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Great show, great commitment. You deserve your success.

  60. Tiaan Hanekom

    August 14, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Well done champ!!

  61. Yolanda Solomons

    August 14, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Well done SA…#silver medal

  62. Hugo Lambrechts

    August 14, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Well done Manyonga…Proud of Team SA!!!

  63. Debbie Jooste

    August 14, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Awesome . Congratulations. Worth watching.

  64. Marelise Campbell

    August 14, 2016 at 9:01 am

    What a champion!!

  65. Sharon Ward

    August 14, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Congrats, you are a star.

  66. Amelda Cloete

    August 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Oh my goodness! I’m so proud of this man! It’s never to late ro go after your dreams! In my book you are Gold!

  67. Vicky Batwell

    August 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

    So exciting to watch!

  68. Mbulelo Mbuja Mgoqi

    August 14, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Well done…. U make us proud aphe #Mbekweni
    #all the #way #2Luvo #uyibaba

  69. Shaun Pinn

    August 14, 2016 at 9:59 am

    What a great achievement

  70. Roma Smith

    August 14, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Well done super proud

  71. Martie Robberts

    August 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

    CONGRATULATIONS AND WELL DONE !!!!!!!

  72. Elmarie Bessinger

    August 14, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I salute you Luvo! Achieving greatness and defeating the odds. Keep on standing tall!

  73. Jenny Petzer

    August 14, 2016 at 11:30 am

    U0001f44fU0001f44fU0001f44f U0001f3ca well done, ‘super star!’

  74. Lebohang C. Motsoatsoa

    August 14, 2016 at 11:51 am

    So close to a gold by just a centimetre. Congratulations.

  75. Slow Town Liquors

    August 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    What a nice man, too. Talking with the media. Fantastic stuff.

  76. Freda Pretorius

    August 14, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Congratulations!!! We are indeed proud of you!

  77. Lesanne De Bruyn

    August 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    And he comes from Mbekweni just outside Wellington where I live. Well done !!!

  78. Sunette Janse van Rensburg

    August 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Go man go! You are a champ!

  79. Lee Chapman

    August 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    What an achievement, and NBC which covers the Olympics in the US did not even mention his name, So unfortunately one eyed.

  80. Lesley Schnaid

    August 14, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Wonderful. Congratulations to you and South Africa. Proud of you.

  81. Aletta Theron

    August 14, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    So proud of you!

  82. Mendi Tsetsani Sigenu

    August 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Well done Ndoda

  83. Valerie Cook

    August 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    He so nearly took the gold so so proud, well done.

  84. Theresa Singh

    August 14, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Well done…you made us so proud. You were so close to bagging the gold medal …silver is good.

  85. Shelley Garb

    August 14, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I saw it. Fantastic!

  86. Jenny Dinsdale

    August 14, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    So proud of what you have made of your 2nd chance

  87. Emelda Khumalo

    August 14, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Well done!
    We are proud of you!
    #TeamSA

  88. Roelien Schomper-Coetzee

    August 14, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    You have made us proud and deserved the gold! You had it in your grasp! Well done! It was an amazing competition to watch!

  89. Esme Mclean

    August 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Really great !!!

  90. Geraldine Bartlett

    August 14, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Brilliant! Well done. You are a star so keep on shining.

  91. Ferry Dasoi

    August 14, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    So proud of u man and thank u!U0001f44d

  92. Fred Fautley

    August 14, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    He was so unlucky not to have won gold. 1 c m difference and on the winners last jump as well U0001f3c5

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