MANCHESTER, England, August 6 – Long jump stars Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai delivered in style on Saturday evening, earning two medals for the national team during a spectacular session of Track and Field action on the second day of the IAAF World Championships in London, England.
Manyonga launched a best leap of 8.48m in the second round to earn the gold medal, and Samaai finished third with a final attempt of 8.32m.
“I feel awesome! It’s a great feeling to be a world champion,” Manyonga said. “This is not the end. We’re still going to show the world what South Africa is made of.”
Samaai was equally delighted to join his countryman on the podium. “This is the beginning of something great. Let’s just hope this can carry us forward,” he said.
On the track, Akani Simbine charged to fifth place in the Men’s 100m final, again holding his own against the best sprinters in the world in the sport’s blue ribbon event.
He crossed the line in 10.01, with American Justin Gatlin securing the title in 9.92.
“I’m very happy to have made it to the final, and I’m happy with the race,” said Simbine, who is set to compete in the 200m event later in the week. Earlier, Simbine had won his 100m semifinal in 10.05.
Caster Semenya coasted into the Women’s 1 500m final, taking third position in her semifinal in 4:03.80.
“The race was great. It was all about getting into the final, so we’re happy with the outcome. Now it’s about going back, resting and preparing for the final.”
Earlier, sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Carina Horn were the star performers in the morning session.
Van Niekerk, the defending 400m champion, won his heat comfortably in 45.27 seconds, progressing to Sunday’s semifinals.
There was disappointment for countryman Pieter Conradie, however, who crossed the line in seventh place in his heat in 46.22 and was knocked out in the opening round.
Horn, meanwhile, overcame a brief spell of rain to grab third spot in her 100m heat in 11.28. She made it through to the penultimate round of the short dash, to be held on Sunday evening.
Shot putters Orazio Cremona and Jaco Engelbrecht were both eliminated in the qualifying round, while Cremona produced a best heave of 19.81m from his three attempts and Engelbrecht delivered a best effort of 19.59m.
Luvo Manyonga proved that by winning the gold medal in Saturday night’s long jump final at the IAAF World Championships in London that nothing, but absolutely nothing is impossible in the sport if you are prepared to put your mind to a specific goal and seriously work towards it.
The Tuks/HPC-athlete made athletics history by becoming the first athlete from Africa to win the long jump world title. He might also be one of very few athletes who managed to win the junior and senior world titles in the long jump. Manyonga was the junior champion in 2010.
The fact that Ruswahl Samaai (South Africa) finished third with a best jump of 8.32m made everything from a South African perspective that bit more special. It is the first time that two South African athletes medalled in the same event at the same world championships.
Jarion Lawson (USA) won the silver medal with an 8.44m attempt.
Before the World Championships Wayne Coldman who is Manyonga’s strength and conditioning coach predicted that a big surprise might await the international athletics community.
“For years everybody has been singing the praises of the American, Australian and European long jumpers but this season it has been Luvo Manyonga that has been pushing the boundaries. His exploits prove that success is not limited to certain countries, in the end, everything boils down to how much an athlete and his support team is prepared to sacrifice to succeed.”
Neil Cornelius (Tuks/HPC athletics coach) said winning a gold medal at a World Championships had been two and half years in the making for him and Manyonga.
“It is a dream come true for me Luvo. Don’t ask me how I feel at the moment because there are no words that can do justice to my feelings. I don’t even want to try and imagine how Luvo must be feeling at the moment. He is after all the guy that kept his cool when it mattered and made sure he got the big jumped that counted,” said Cornelius last night.
Cornelius confidently predicts that best is yet to come as far as Manyonga’s long jump exploits are concerned.
“He has not yet even come close to fulfilling his true potential as a long jumper. Watch this space, as they say, something really special is bound to happen.”
The long jump final boiled down to a classic scenario of when the going gets tough the tough get
Manyonga certainly did not have the best of starts to the competition as he over stepped with his first attempt. Lawson started with a jump of 8.37, Aleksandr Menkov with 8.27m and Samaai with 8.25 so the pressure was on.
“We were never going to let that faze us as we believe in controlling the controllable meaning there is nothing we can do about what the other athletes are doing. Luvo always just focusses on his performance.
“The plan was to go big with the first jump to pressure the other athletes. When it did not work, we decided on a slightly safer approach, so I told Luvo just get something on the scoreboard. Luvo surprised me by jumping 8.48m.
“From then on we just focus on making sure that every jump counted,” said Cornelius. – African News Agency (ANA)