MANYONGA LEAPS TO THE TOP

Ex­perts say long jumper has what it takes to break world record

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­press.co.za

Buried deep in the in­cred­i­ble nar­ra­tive that has been South African sprint­ing this sea­son is the equally re­mark­able story of long jumper Luvo Manyonga.

Hav­ing lost out on Olympic gold by just 1cm last year, the 26-year-old has im­proved his per­sonal best al­most with each per­for­mance.

After break­ing his South African and African record at the na­tional cham­pi­onships last week­end with a leap of 8.65m, which places him joint 11th on the top per­former list, talk has shifted to whether he has what it takes to break Mike Pow­ell’s 26-year-old world record.

We spoke to a few ex­perts to find out.

NEIL COR­NELIUS (Manyonga’s coach)

Has he got what it takes to break the record, and why?

Def­i­nitely, he has the ca­pa­bil­ity to do it. The first time I saw him per­form many years ago, I felt he had the po­ten­tial to break bar­ri­ers.

Why? It is a gut feel­ing based on see­ing him in train­ing and how eas­ily it all comes to him. Luvo’s best dis­tance is ahead of him. What makes him such a good long jumper?

If I were to give you one an­swer, it would be ev­ery­thing. He is built for it in the same way Michael Phelps is built for swim­ming. He has the height, a great spring and the abil­ity to con­trol his tech­nique, and the mus­cles to help with that. He has got a lot of spring, he is fast, he gets tech­nique and un­der­stands what I say to him. He has the whole pack­age. If there was one thing he needed to im­prove, what would it be?

What we re­ally need is to fin­ish our pro­gramme in terms of our prepa­ra­tions for the world cham­pi­onships. We need to work a bit on the land­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion in the last 10m be­fore he hits the board. But there is noth­ing ma­jor, we just need to keep go­ing with the pro­gramme we are on. When do you think he will be able to break the world record?

There is no time frame at all given the way we want to ap­proach things. The big dis­tance will come when we are not try­ing to jump big. We have never gone out to jump big, so there is no time frame to when he might do it. Our main goal is win­ning com­pe­ti­tions and get­ting golds. These things will work out the way they are sup­posed to work out.

EMMARIE FOUCHÉ (long jump coach)

Has he got what it takes to break the record, and why?

He def­i­nitely has what it takes. He has got the build, the ex­plo­sive power and a nat­u­ral men­tal abil­ity to re­lax and not force things in an at­tempt. What makes him such a good long jumper?

It is the com­bi­na­tion of his men­tal and phys­i­cal abil­ity. It looks like noth­ing can dis­tract him, and that is a dis­tinc­tive ad­van­tage in ath­let­ics. If there was one thing he needed to im­prove, what would it be? He can im­prove on his run-up speed, and that will re­late to faster take off. When do you think he will be able to break the world record?

He can jump the world record when all the fac­tors re­lated to long jump are in sync – men­tal, phys­i­cal, tech­ni­cal and the com­pe­ti­tion en­vi­ron­ment. The com­pe­ti­tion en­vi­ron­ment is heat, le­gally al­lowed wind speed, the com­pe­ti­tion sur­face and crowd par­tic­i­pa­tion. Time-wise, he will do it in the near fu­ture.

PHOTO: FRIKKIE KAPP / BACKPAGEPIX

STEP AHEAD Long jumper Luvo Manyonga has been im­prov­ing his per­sonal best al­most with each per­for­mance

AHEAD Neil Cor­nelius says Manyonga’s best is still to come

GOT IT ALL He is a nat­u­ral, says Emmarie Fouché

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