A medal will make my life awe­some, says Many­onga

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - DO­MINIQUE DE GOU­VEIA

“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’

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