Cape Town - South Africa celebrated with Long Jump
star Luvo Manyonga on Saturday, after the world champion touched down on home
soil following a hectic, but tremendously successful international season.
Manyonga had a spectacular campaign and
he was one of three SA athletes who went unbeaten in their specialist events,
along with Wayde van Niekerk in the 400m Men and Caster Semenya in the 800m
Richard Stander, the Acting Chief Executive
Officer of Athletics South Africa was full of praise for Manyonga's
achievements as well as the support of his management team, including coach
Neil Cornelius and agent Lee-Roy Newton.
"All of them are working as a
group behind Luvo to support him, so he can focus on what he has to do and that
is to bring honour to South Africa," Stander said.
"As s a country, we are very proud of
Manyonga leaped beyond 8.60m on four
occasions this year and produced a massive national record of 8.65m at the SA
Senior Championships in Potchefstroom in April.
He also became the first South African
long jumper to win the outdoor world title when he clinched the global crown in
London earlier this month. He closed his season this week by taking the IAAF
Diamond League trophy in his discipline.
While Van Niekerk returned home early
from his European campaign due to a back injury, and Semenya is set to end her season at the
IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin on Sunday (tomorrow), Manyonga returned
home to a rapturous welcoming ceremony at OR Tambo International in
"This was an epic year and not
just for myself, but for the team which has been working with me,"
"Without the team I have, this year
would not be as it is now. I'm really proud, but for the moment I need a good
rest and will spend time with family and take my parents and family to a
"Going forward, I am also
confident that I can claim a new record and I believe I can jump 9m, but I will
have to work very hard to achieve that.
"I am aware that I am inspiring younger
athletes to the sport and I accept that I have become a role model for some
around the world.
"In Zurich, for instance, there were
three youngsters who drove five hours just to see me perform. That tells you
Coach Cornelius expressed satisfaction
with the way their season has gone.
"I was never in doubt of his abilities
to win the gold medal and become a world champion. I was clear of that, but
credit must go to the support team which allowed us (Luvo and Cornelius) to
concentrate on working on our preparations to achieve all that we have
achieved," Cornelius said.