Port Elizabeth jumper Luvo Manyonga primed for title defences


Port Elizabeth's international long jump sensation Luvo Manyonga will have a target on his back when he defends his IAAF Diamond League title in Shanghai on Saturday.
Manyonga will be part of a strong South African contingent at the meet which will see some of the best athletes compete across various disciplines as they vie to be crowned series winners.
The 28-year-old, who currently sit at the top the IAAF world rankings, is quietly confident his pre-season preparations, as well as his gold medal performance at the national championships last month, will put him in good stead as he enters the international season.
“Preparation has been good. The season started off well with me defending my national title at the SA champs. So I just want to build on that going forward,” Manyonga said.
In 2018, the Paarl-born athlete leaped his way to gold in the men’s long jump at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia. He also claimed gold at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.
He also got silver at the IAAF Indoor  Championships in Birmingham, England in 2018.
“The main focus this year is for me to defend both my World Championship as well as my Diamond League titles.
“I will make sure my schedule fits in with those two goals.
“It's a long season, so I will also have to make sure to be smart in my approach to training, competing and resting,” he added.
Manyonga was crowned the sports star of the year at the Eastern Cape Sport and Recreation Achievers Awards in August last year. He is also the Herald SPAR Homegrown Hero for 2018.
Asked how the fierceness of competition in his discipline has spurred him on to want to perform at his level best, Manyonga said: “In some ways it does motivate me. But to be honest I just want to focus on myself, do my best and reach my own goals.”
Manyonga said training in the Bay was a good thing for him as it created a homely environment as it brought him closer to his family.
Manyonga will line up against a strong contingent of South Africa jumpers taking to the sand pit with two-time African champion Ruswahl Samaai and Zarck Visser are also set to compete at the Shanghai event.
However, China’s Asian Games champion Jianan Wang will hope to make an impact in front of his home crowd and spoil the party for the South Africans.
Once the Shanghai Diamond League event is completed, Manyonga’s calendar sees him travel to the Nanjing World Challenge in Japan (May 21) before heading to the Stockholm Diamond League at the end of May. He will also participate at the Ostrava World Challenge in June.

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