Athletics

Manyonga leaps to the top

AHEAD:   Neil Cornelius says Manyonga’s best is still to come.
AHEAD: Neil Cornelius says Manyonga’s best is still to come.

Johannesburg - Buried deep in the incredible narrative that has been South African sprinting this season is the equally remarkable story of long jumper Luvo Manyonga.

Having lost out on Olympic gold by just 1cm last year, the 26-year-old has improved his personal best almost with each performance.

After breaking his South African and African record at the national championships last weekend with a leap of 8.65m, which places him joint 11th on the top performer list, talk has shifted to whether he has what it takes to break Mike Powell’s 26-year-old world record.

We spoke to a few experts to find out.

V NEIL CORNELIUS
(Manyonga’s coach)

Has he got what it takes to break the record, and why?

Definitely, he has the capability to do it. The first time I saw him perform many years ago, I felt he had the potential to break barriers.

Why? It is a gut feeling based on seeing him in training and how easily it all comes to him. Luvo’s best distance is ahead of him.


What makes him such a good long jumper?

If I were to give you one answer, it would be everything. He is built for it in the same way Michael Phelps is built for swimming.

He has the height, a great spring and the ability to control his technique, and the muscles to help with that. He has got a lot of spring, he is fast, he gets technique and understands what I say to him.

He has the whole package.

If there was one thing he needed to improve, what would it be?

What we really need is to finish our programme in terms of our preparations for the world championships.

We need to work a bit on the landing and acceleration in the last 10m before he hits the board.

But there is nothing major...we just need to keep going with the programme we are on.

When do you think he will be able to break the world record?

There is no time frame at all given the way we want to approach things. The big distance will come when we are not trying to jump big.

We have never gone out to jump big, so there is no time frame to when he might do it. Our main goal is winning competitions and getting golds.

These things will work out the way they are supposed to work out.

V EMMARIE Fouché
(long jump coach)

Has he got what it takes to break the record, and why?

He definitely has what it takes. He has the build, the explosive power and a natural mental ability to relax and not force things in an attempt.

What makes him such a good long jumper?

It is the combination of his mental and physical ability. It looks like nothing can distract him, and that is a distinctive advantage in athletics.

If there was one thing he needed to improve, what would it be?

He can improve on his run-up speed, and that will relate to faster take off.

When do you think he will be able to break the world record?

He can jump the world record when all the factors related to long jump are in sync – mental, physical, technical and the competition environment.

The competition environment is heat, legally allowed wind speed, the competition surface and crowd participation.

Time-wise, he will do it in the near future.

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