Luvo Manyonga

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Luvo Manyonga
Luvo Manyonga 2017 FBK-Games.jpg
Personal information
NationalitySouth Africa
Born (1991-01-08) January 8, 1991 (age 29)
Height1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight82 kg (181 lb)[1]
SportMen's athletics
Event(s)Long jump
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)8.65 m (28 ft 4 12 in) (2017)

Luvo Manyonga (born 8 January 1991) is a South African track and field athlete who specialises in the long jump. He won the 2017 World Championship in London and the 2018 Commonwealth Games title in the Gold Coast, Australia. He was the Olympic silver medallist in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Manyonga was world junior champion in 2010, and the African Games champion in 2011. He competed at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, placing fifth. He was the runner-up at the 2016 African Championships in Athletics.

He holds a personal best of 8.65 m (28 ft 4 12 in), set in 2017 in Potchefstroom.


Early life and career[edit]

Manyonga was born 8 January 1991 and raised in Mbekweni township in Paarl, a city in the far south-west of South Africa. His father, John, a fork-lift truck driver, was largely absent, leaving Manyonga to be raised by his mother, Joyce, a domestic cleaner. Given his surroundings, Manyonga had a poverty-stricken and dysfunctional upbringing, though his mother maintained the family home for him and his older brother and sister. He took part in local track and field competitions and his talent for long jump was soon identified. A local coach, Mario Smith, was surprised by the young man's ability and immediately set about supporting Manyonga towards a professional career.[2]

Manyonga had his first international success at the 2009 African Junior Athletics Championships. Travelling to Mauritius, he jumped 7.49 m (24 ft 6 34 in) for the bronze medal.[3] He ended that year with a long jump best of 7.65 m (25 ft 1 in) as well as a triple jump of 15.54 m (50 ft 11 34 in).[4]

A breakthrough came the year after when he jumped 8.19 m (26 ft 10 14 in) to win at the Weltklasse in Biberach in Germany.[5] This jump was in the top ten all-time by an under-20 athlete at that point.[6] He delivered on that performance with a gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics, becoming only the second African to win a horizontal jumps medal at the competition (after fellow South African Godfrey Khotso Mokoena. Seeing his progress, he set himself targets to qualify for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympics.[7]

Africa Games champion[edit]

He arrived on the senior international scene in the 2011 season. Competing in Finland that July, he cleared a personal best of 8.26 m (27 ft 1 in), which ranked him in the top 15 in the world that year.[8] He qualified to represent South Africa at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics – one of two South Africans competing, alongside Godfrey Khotso Mokoena. He jumped 8.04 m (26 ft 4 12 in) to make the final while reigning world silver medallist Mokoena failed to progress. Manyonga's opened the final with a jump of 8.21 m (26 ft 11 in), which was his best of the competition and brought him fifth place at his first major competition.[9]

Two weeks later he appeared at the All-Africa Games and defeated former champions Ignisious Gaisah and Ndiss Kaba Badji to take the gold medal.[10] He was runner-up at the DecaNation in his last top level performance of the year.[11]

Tik use and doping suspension[edit]

Manyonga opened his 2012 season with a jump of eight metres on the national Yellow Pages Series.[12] However, the winnings of 80,000 Rand that he had received from his performances the previous year disrupted his life. Family and friends came to rely on him financially and he quickly fell into debt. Coach Mario Smith began to support Manyonga's family at his own expense so the jumper could focus on training. Around this time, Manyonga had become a regular user of tik – the local variant of crystal methamphetamine commonly used in his township. He first tried the recreational drug in 2011 and had used it when outside of competition (when it would not constitute a doping offence), but he gave a positive doping test in-competition at a national series meet on 20 March. He waived his right to have a "B" sample testing and admitted taking the drug for non-performance-enhancing reasons, resulting in his suspension from competition. He admitted he had developed an addiction in the preceding months and was admitted for drug rehabilitation.[13]

His coach Mario Smith was his advocate at the tribunal for the doping offence. Smith argued for a reduced period of sanction, entered as mitigating factors Manyonga's poor family situation, use of the drug for non-enhancing reasons, and lack of education on doping matters. The prosecutor argued for a full two-year ban, based on Manyonga's admittance of taking the drug and his strict liability in that regard, though they also noted that the athlete had suffered a failure of support from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, Athletics South Africa and Stellenbosch Athletics Club, despite being one of the country's best Olympic athletes. The tribunal set a slightly reduced 18-month suspension as the punishment and in summation stated that "There can be no disputing that the Athlete is at fault...but the exceptional social circumstances that many black athletes encounter in South Africa cannot be ignored."[13]

Manyonga began working with John McGrath, an Irishman and strength training coach, in 2014. Planning a return to action, Smith sent paperwork to the national athletics body for entry to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This was not processed correctly and ultimately Manyonga did not compete. Smith died that year during a car accident while on his way to visit his athlete in Mbekweni. Manyonga's life spiralled and he missed his coach's memorial, having come across some friends taking tik en route.[2] Following this, the National Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam visited the athlete's family home. Shocked by his situation, Sam arranged for the Committee to pay for training and accommodation at University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre. Manyonga reacted positively, saying "I decided I can't take it anymore in Cape Town because that is where I hook myself up with the devil." He began training again full-time in mid-2015.[14]

Return to track[edit]

Having missed four outdoor seasons since 2012, Manyonga returned to professional track competition in 2016. His talent had not dimmed and he cleared a world-leading and personal best distance of 8.30 m (27 ft 2 34 in) in Pretoria in March.[15] He faltered at the South African Athletics Championships, mistiming his jumps and ending in 13th place.[16] He was back over eight metres on his IAAF Diamond League debut at the Golden Gala,[17] then claimed his first senior medal in almost five years at the 2016 African Championships in Athletics in Durban through a wind-assisted 8.23 m (27 ft 0 in). This made it a South African 1–2 as Manyonga was runner-up to Rushwahl Samaai.[16]

He entered the 2016 Rio Olympics ranked in the world's top ten jumpers.[18] In the Olympics, he was in the top four throughout the competition, leaping into the lead with his fifth round 8.37 m. He was surpassed by Jeff Henderson's final jump of 8.38 m to take the Olympic silver medal.

Manyonga won the gold at the 2017 World Championships in London, jumping 8.48 metres.[19]

Manyonga continued a great run of form by winning the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, jumping a games record of 8.41 metres in the final.

Personal bests[edit]

  • Long jump – 8.65 m (28 ft 4 12 in) (2017)
  • Triple jump – 15.71 m (51 ft 6 12 in) (2010)

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
2009 African Junior Championships Bambous, Mauritius 3rd Long jump 7.49 m
2010 World Junior Championships Moncton, Canada 1st Long jump 7.99 m
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 5th Long jump 8.21 m
All-Africa Games Maputo, Mozambique 1st Long jump 8.02 m
2016 African Championships Durban, South Africa 2nd Long jump 8.23 m w
2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2nd Long jump 8.37 m
2017 World Championships London, United Kingdom 1st Long jump 8.48 m
2018 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 2nd Long jump 8.44 m
Commonwealth Games Gold Coast, Australia 1st Long jump 8.41 m
African Championships Asaba, Nigeria 2nd Long jump 8.43 m
2019 World Championships Doha, Qatar 4th Long jump 8.28 m

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Alfred, Luke (2014-08-01). The impossibility of loving Luvo. Mail & Guardian. Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  3. ^ 2009 Africa Junior Athletics Championships – Full results. African Athletics (2009-08-02). Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  4. ^ Luvo Manyonga. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  5. ^ Wenig, Jörg (2010-07-11). Hingst improves to 4.72m in Biberach. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  6. ^ u20 outdoor Long Jump men. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  7. ^ Raynor, Kayon (2010-07-23). Manyonga follows in Mokoena's footsteps. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  8. ^ senior outdoor 2011 Long Jump men. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-30.
  9. ^ Johnson, Len (2011-09-02). Men's Long Jump - Final - Phillips takes record fourth World Champs gold medal. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  10. ^ All-Africa Games, Maputo (Mozambique) 11-15/09/2011. AfricaAthle (2011-09-15). Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  11. ^ Vazel, Pierre-Jean (2011-09-19). Lemaitre and Lesueur produce the highlights at DecaNation. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  12. ^ Williamson, Norrie (2012-03-21). Low key kick-off to South African series in Stellenbosch. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  13. ^ a b SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) – Anti Doping Disciplinary Hearing. Athlete: Mr Luvo Manyonga. Sports Federation: Athletics South Africa (ASA). Date: Tuesday 22 May 2012. Drug Free Sport. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  14. ^ Luvo Manyonga: From tik addict to Rio. Sport24 (2015-06-19). Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  15. ^ Mohamed, Ashfak (2016-06-01). Luvo jumps at Diamond League chance. IOL. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  16. ^ a b Botton, Wesley (2016-06-23). Sprint double for Ivory Coast but hosts South Africa dominate at African Championships. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  17. ^ Luvo Manyonga. Diamond League. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  18. ^ senior outdoor 2016 Long Jump men. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-07-31.
  19. ^ Radnedge, Christian. "Manyonga claims long jump gold to crown remarkable comeback". Retrieved 11 October 2017.

External links[edit]