In a remarkable show of athletic ability, Luvo Manyonga broke records at the Diamond League Long Jump meeting in Shanghai on 13 May 2017. Backed by fellow athletes, like South African Runner Wayde van Niekerk, Manyonga bested his first jump to become a record-holder. In celebration, van Niekerk exclaimed his pride via Twitter:
Manyonga’s record-breaking performance in Shangai comes after his intense focus across 2017. His personal best, a jump of 8.65m, was recorded in April, just one month before the Shanghai meeting. Humble, yet with unwavering determination, he responded, “I am pleased to win again.”
Speaking about the experience, directly, Manyonga displayed his technical aptitude for the sport:
The track was really fast and that made it difficult. I did a few fouls and that was a distraction. I didn’t get the distance today I wanted as I was looking for 8.80m, but I know it will come.” – Luvo Manyonga
His victory comes with a 39cm lead over silver winner, Xinglong Gao, of China. South African teammates, Rushwal Samaai and Godfrey Khotso Mokoena, settled in at 5th and 8th place respectively.
Manyonga’s track record is one of hope and redemption for many, especially those combatting social challenges in South Africa. His father, a truck driver, was largely absent, having to work long hours on the road to earn his keep. Joyce, Manyonga’s mother, raised him while working as a domestic helper. Coach Mario Smith identified Manyonga’s talent during his early childhood years and showed him support and encouragement as he steadily grew toward a professional career in athletics.
Falling into drug addiction, Manyonga took accountability and showed that he was determined to commit himself to his passion for sport, and conquered the odds to restore his ability to compete in international tournaments again. Since his first incident of exclusion from athletics, he realised how seriously substance abuse could impact upon him and his family. Driven by the effort he saw his parents put into raising him and his siblings, Manyonga emerged victorious and now continuously strives for better each day.