A medal will make my life awesome, says Manyonga
“JUST jump, the distance will come automatically.” That’s the motto for South African long jumper Luvo Manyonga as he heads towards the Rio Olympics in 21 days.
Speaking on Thursday at the Sascoc team announcement for the upcoming showpiece, the once-troubled athlete was brimming with confidence over his inclusion. “It was obvious, Luvo is the best in South Africa” said Manyonga. “I’m very excited for the team that’s going to Rio.”
With his sights on medal success, the Capetonian is raring to go and showcase his talents in Brazil.
“The targets will always be there, but I don’t worry about targets. I do my own best. I compete with myself, I don’t compete with other people. Anything is possible,” said Manyonga.
It’s been a dramatic five years for the South African since he first broke into the world of athletics in 2010.
At the time, emerging as a future star, Manyonga became the junior world long jump champion in Moncton, Canada with a jump of 7.99m. A year later, at the Daegu World Championships, he finished fifth is his first-ever world competition.
But the rising star’s career veered greatly off track in 2012 after it was announced that he had tested positive for Tik. A subsequent ban of 18 months saw him miss out on the 2012 London Games, despite having already qualified for one event before his suspension.
Manyonga faced further adversity in 2014 when longtime coach Mario Smit died in a car accident right in the middle of his comeback.
Two years on, despite a haunting past and the painful memories that go with it, the long jumper only has eyes on the road ahead, which leads to Rio and beyond.
“I’m not looking back on what happened, I’m just focusing on my future. My future is waiting for me. The past is the past and if look back at the past it’s going to pull me down,” said Manyonga, whose success will benefit more than just himself as he hopes to make his mother and son proud.
“I’ve been out for a long time and now I’m back in the game so I have to produce what I can do. I tell myself every day when I wake up that I have to give that boy a better future. I don’t want him to go down the same path that daddy did.”
Preparation for success in Rio has gone well for him. Earlier this year, he reached a long jump personal-best of 8.30m. Manyonga qualified in March with his first competitive jump in over a year.
His first leap of 8.20m at a league meeting at Pilditch was enough to earn his spot in the national team.
Making up for lost time having missed out in London four years ago, the 2016 showpiece serves as Manyonga’s longawaited time to shine as he looks to make a mark on the world of athletics.
With his focus placed firmly on the upcoming Games, Olympic success for the comeback kid will be the ultimate jumpstart to get his promising career back on track.
“A medal will make my life awesome,” said Manyonga.
LUVO MANYONGA: ‘I don’t worry about targets’