Defending champ boosts Manyango’s title bid
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.