De­fend­ing champ boosts Manyango’s ti­tle bid

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VILLIERS

LONG jump king­pin Luvo Many­onga’s chances of claim­ing the ti­tle at the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships have im­proved af­ter the with­drawal of de­fend­ing cham­pion Greg Ruther­ford.

The Lon­don 2012 Olympics cham­pion with­drew from the cham­pi­onships start­ing in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal next week due to an an­kle in­jury.

Ruther­ford has been strug­gling with in­jury through­out the sea­son but his chances of de­fend­ing his ti­tle suf­fered a blow when he dam­aged his an­kle lig­a­ments in June.

“I gave it ev­ery­thing and this time fell short… I won’t be at the Lon­don 2017 World Cham­pi­onships to de­fend my ti­tle,” Ruther­ford said in a so­cial me­dia post.

“The an­kle in­jury and her­ni­a­tions just haven’t healed and I’m to­tally un­able to jump/sprint or even cough for that mat­ter with­out pain.

“Wish­ing the amaz­ing Britsh team all the luck in the world. I know how it feels to suc­ceed in that sta­dium. It’s the great­est feel­ing in the world.”

The Bri­ton would have been one of Many­onga’s great­est threats in his pur­suit of his maiden se­nior world ti­tle.

Ruther­ford won the 2012 Olympic ti­tle in front of his home crowd and fol­lowed that vic­tory up with the world ti­tle in Bei­jing in 2015 be­fore fin­ish­ing third be­hind Many­onga at last year’s Rio Olympics.

Many­onga is the over­whelm­ing favourite to win the long jump ti­tle in Lon­don with fel­low South African Ruswahl Sa­maai also in with a good chance.

The SA duo dom­i­nate the 2017 world rank­ings with Many­onga boast­ing the four best jumps this year.

His na­tional record of 8.65 me­tres is at the top of the pile while he also has three more jumps of over 8.60m to high­light his dom­i­nance.

Sa­maai goes into the cham­pi­onships as the sec­ond best jumper of the year with his per­sonal best of 8.49m.

Many­onga and Sa­maai are the only long jumpers to have leapt over 8.40m this year with their near­est ri­vals, Maykel Masso of Cuba and Jar­rion Law­son of the US, both hold­ing sea­son’s bests of 8.33m.

Olympic cham­pion Jeff Hen­der­son, who beat Many­onga by one cen­time­tre in Rio last year, has not reached the same heights as in 2016 and goes to the Lon­don show­piece with a best leap of 8.28m this year.

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