From tik to sports star of the year


WHEN for­mer tik ad­dict, now Olympics sil­ver medal­list and long jump sen­sa­tion Luvo Many­onga was an­nounced Sports­man and Sport Star of the Year, his mother, Joyce Many­onga, a do­mes­tic worker, was re­minded of the R5 coins she used to give him to travel to Stel­len­bosch to train.

Be­ing a re­cip­i­ent of the coun­try’s top sports award and beat­ing the likes of Olympic gold medal­lists Wayde van Niek­erk and Chad le Clos to claim the Sports­man of the Year ac­co­lade was a far cry from eight years ago, when the Paarl-born Many­onga was ad­dicted to tik.

The 26-year-old’s re­mark­able story is not just about grow­ing up in a shack, but how he over­came his ad­dic­tion to be­come the coun­try’s top ath­lete.

Many­onga and track sen­sa­tion Caster Se­menya were the big win­ners, named Sports­man and Sportswoman of the Year in Kemp­ton Park on Sun­day evening.

Speak­ing to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia from her Mbek­weni home in Paarl yes­ter­day, an over­joyed Joyce said: “We are proud of our young man. Luvo con­tin­ues to make us proud. He con­tin­ues to in­spire us and the rest of the com­mu­nity where he comes from.

“When­ever he wins some­thing I am al­ways re­minded of the R5 coins I used to give to him to go to train in Stel­len­bosch. Those are be­ing re­paid now. “Luvo is nat­u­rally a strong and ath­letic per­son. He got that from his fa­ther.”

Joyce thanked Mbek­weni res­i­dents for ral­ly­ing be­hind her son and said their sup­port had made Many­onga the per­son he was to­day.

“I am very proud to be Luvo’s mother. I had a knee prob­lem dur­ing the awards. but when he won I could not stop stamp­ing my feet and jump­ing up and down. All that pain was gone.

“He is also an in­spi­ra­tion to the youth of this coun­try. We were vis­ited by peo­ple who came to con­grat­u­late him be­cause he has put Mbek­weni on the map,” she said.

Luvo’s sis­ter, Vuyiseka Many­onga, said: “We want to say thank you to this com­mu­nity. They have been very sup­port­ive to­wards Luvo. We love the peo­ple of Mbek­weni.”

A beam­ing Luvo said he just wanted to keep in­spir­ing the youth, af­ter be­ing named South Africa’s Sports Star of the Year.

He has taken one gi­ant leap af­ter an­other since the start of the sea­son and is yet to come down from the high of win­ning the world long jump gold medal.

He has bro­ken the South African record twice this sea­son, boast­ing a per­sonal best of 8.60 me­tres.

Many­onga com­pleted a win­ning streak over a full cal­en­dar year over 10 meet­ings be­fore fin­ish­ing the year off with the Di­a­mond League Tro­phy in the long jump.

Last year he claimed a sil­ver medal in long jump at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’m a bit emo­tional, it is go­ing away now but the award is mine and I am the Sports­man of the Year,” Many­onga said.

“I just want to keep rid­ing the wave un­til I re­tire some­day, and I am look­ing for­ward to next year.”

The long jumper will tar­get more sil­ver­ware next year, when he will be look­ing to add the World In­door and Com­mon­wealth Games ti­tles to his grow­ing list of ac­co­lades.

Three-time 800m world cham­pion Se­menya also walked away with the Peo­ple’s Choice Award.

Se­menya has been peer­less in the 800m over the past two sea­sons, win­ning gold at the Rio Olympic Games be­fore claim­ing her third world ti­tle in Lon­don this year.

“It is a great feel­ing win­ning awards, but it is no longer about that, it is about cre­at­ing great per­for­mances for my peo­ple,” Se­menya said.

“It is about go­ing out there and car­ry­ing the flag know­ing peo­ple are be­hind you and love you for who you are.” She added a sur­prise 1 500m bronze medal to high­light her ver­sa­til­ity and star qual­ity.

Se­menya re­vealed that she would race the 800m and 1 500m at the Com­mon­wealth Games, with an eye on dou­ble gold.

“I just want to be the best 800m ath­lete ever, so I have to main­tain my win­ning streak,” she said.

“I’m now on 20 out of 20 since 2015, which is a great achieve­ment, so I just want to keep on win­ning.”The Bl­itzboks were crowned Sports Team of the Year thanks to their World Rugby Sev­ens Se­ries vic­tory ear­lier this year. “It is a mas­sive priv­i­lege to ac­cept this award on be­half of our team.

“Over the last three or four years we’ve been work­ing re­ally hard,” said cap­tain Philip Sny­man. See Page 13


World long jump cham­pion Luvo Many­onga was the big win­ner on Sun­day night at the SA Sports Awards in Kemp­ton Park, where he was crowned the Sports Star of the Year.

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