WATCH: Luvo Manyonga leaps to silver

Cape Town - Little-known Luvo Manyonga leaped to the silver medal in the men's long jump at the Rio Olympics on Saturday (Sunday morning SA time).

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Manyonga, 25, took the lead in the competition with his 8.37m with his fifth and penultimate jump, only to be denied victory by American Jeff Henderson who took gold with his final effort of the night - an 8.38m effort.

Manyonga's story is the stuff of Oscar-winning Hollywood movie material. 

In 2012 he was banned for 18 months after traces of methamphetamine (tik) were found in his system. 

There was also further personal heartache as one of the men who believed in him most ardently, Maties athletics coach Mario Smith, was killed in a car crash in mid 2014.

It was Smith who took Manyonga under his wing and gave him a place to live and put food on his table.

"The demons have been trying to pull me down but look at my face ... look at me standing here," Manyonga said post-event.

Manyonga has since been open on his battles with substance abuse and confirmed that he was close to death at one stage.

Manyonga also thanked his mother Joyce and son Lindokhule (5)

"It’s too early in the morning SA time to phone them but they’ll be hearing from me very soon."

Manyonga's silver was Team South Africa's fifth - to go along with one bronze - at the Rio Olympics to date.

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