Luvo Manyonga set a personal best this afternoon at the Gauteng-North Athletics Championships at Pilditch when he won the long jump with a distance of 8.30m. It is the second time in seven days that he has manged to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio. He seemingly enjoyed himself throughout the competition.
There was not a moment when he was not smiling. Even during his two no jumps he still managed to smile. The Tuks athlete who trains at the HPC had a quite modest start to his competition recording only 6.44 metres with his first jump.
His second jump was a no jump before he recorded 8.09 metres. His fourth attempt was again a no jump and then he let “rip” with a massive jump. Afterwards he celebrated in style doing a backwards somersault.
Manyonga says: ‘This is my life. I absolutely love competing in the long jump. I won’t say my 8.30 metres was easy, but it felt good. The reason why I am able to consistently have good jumps is because I really believe in my own ability and I am not obsessed about distance. I just jump because I enjoy doing so. All that matters is to make sure that my technique is faultless when I compete. If I can get that right, the big jumps will happen.’ Judging by what has been happening at the Olympic Games in the long jump since 1996, it seems as if Manyonga will have a realistic chance to medal at the Games in Rio. He says: ‘As I have said, distances are not important to me at the moment. My main goal is to make sure that I am selected to compete in Rio. Once that is done my focus will be on qualifying for the final. It is a well-known fact that anything can happen once you are in the final.’
The 25-year-old Manyonga, who is on a comeback after testing positive for “TIK” in 2012, says the main reason why his life did not spiral totally out of control after his positive test was his four-year-old son, Lindokehle: ‘I will not be able to live with myself knowing that I have let my son down. He is the key to my success. I want him to be proud of his dad. Athletics for me is a way to ensure that Lindokehle will never be in need of anything and that he will get a good education. I was told that Lindokehle has already bragged to his friends about his dad being on television. It is special to know that I am doing something that makes him proud.’ Asked if he has any regrets about what happened, Manyonga says: ‘I used to have regrets and there were many days when I wished I had not given in to the temptation. But last year I realised that to keep on blaming myself for what has happened does not serve any purpose. It is defeatist and only made me unhappy. I also realised that what has happened has happened. Yesterday is dead and I can do nothing to undo the past. It is what happens tomorrow that is important. Therefore I am very grateful for the way Sascoc, the HPC and Tuks Athletics have been supporting me since last year.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott