Commonwealth Games

Manyonga ticks Games gold off bucket list

2018-04-11 17:09
luvo manyonga commonwealth games on the Gold Coast
Luvo Manyonga (Supplied)

Cape Town - Athletes Luvo Manyonga and Anaso Jobodwana provided for a sweet and sour night of drama for Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

Manyonga and fellow long jumper Ruswahl Samaai, Sunette Viljoen (javelin) and Reinhardt Hamman (shot put) had a field night as they added four more medals to the rainbow nation's tally with Manyonga winning gold in the long jump with a Games record of 8.41 metres with his sixth and final jump.

READ: Silver, bronze for SA para-athletes on the Gold Coast

According to Team SA, Jobodwana's Games came crashing down as he learned he had been disqualified for a false start in the second of three 200m semi-finals!

This came after he had first been 'cleared' by technical officials and received the green light to race, where he finished second and earned a place in Thursday's final.

However, Trinidad and Tobago appealed and further reviews of camera footage saw the initial decision overturned.

The disqualification put something of a damper on celebrations at the Carrara Stadium but no matter what, the four field medals took South Africa to a total of 26 and up to fourth spot on the medals table.

While lawn bowlers Princess Schroeder and Phlippus Walker also had won silver in the Mixed B2/B3 Pairs over at Broadbeach, pushing the tally up to 27.

Gold for Manyonga means the Port Elizabeth-based jumper now has an Olympic silver medal from Rio, a world championships gold from London and now a Commonwealth Games gold.

"There were a few challenges on the track," Manyonga told Team SA. "But I got my six jumps in. There was trouble with the time zone and I struggled to acclimatise, so I wasn’t really able to go for the world record tonight.

Asked about his previous struggles with drugs, Manyonga was happy to say he'd moved on for that period of his life.

"All that is in the past now - I'm focusing on whats happening and I’m doing great."

When told that many Australian youngsters also had the same problems he was quick to offer advice: "Accept it and ask someone for help. Get a team to help you and of course, be honest. When you’re healthy, anything is possible.

And what does the medal mean: "It's just another medal in the bag - now I go home BUT it's a very important medal and something else to tick off my bucket list."

His competitive nature is never far beneath the nice-guy nature.

"I'll take it a bit easier now but I ended last season unbeaten, and hey, I'm not going to allow that to happen this year again."

On competing in front of a hugely patriotic Aussie crowd roaring on hero Henry Frayne?

"Ja, there was a little pressure but I'm the only guy on that runway and I knew what I’ve done in training so I just told myself: 'Luvo, focus, focus on what you're doing!'"

Right now the sporting world is firmly focused on South Africa's latest Commonwealth hero and it’s a golden focus.

Local hero Frayne had set the ball rolling with an opening 8.24 and improved on that with an 8.33m but Manyonga soon moved into the lead with an 8.35m effort on his fourth jump.

No-one else looked like getting too close to Manyonga and, as he so often does, the showman of SA athletics waited till his last leap to put the golden seal on his event.

Frayne took silver with that 8.33 and then it was Manyonga's compatriot Samaai who completed the podium.

Samaai’s best of the night was an 8.22m on this third attempt, meaning he has repeated his bronze medal feat from Glasgow, Scotland four years ago.

Earlier in the evening, Viljoen earned her fourth Commonwealth medal for South Africa.

She now has a fullhouse of Games medals, but this won’t be the one that makes her happiest as she had to settle for bronze on the night.

She opened with a 62.08m, but that was as good as it got as she slipped back with throws of 56.61, 58.69, 56.57, no throw and 57.38.

Four years ago, at the last Games in Glasgow, she won silver with a throw of 63.19m. Still, she has come an awfully long way for SA and has done her country proud! Winner on the night was Australia's Kathryn Mitchell, with her opening throw of 68.92, a Games record.

Viljoen who had less than the perfect run-in to the Games with injury and then a few technical problems with her javelin on arrival, now has two golds, one silver and a bronze!

"I'm happy and proud of this medal. I've only had one competition before these Games and there was nothing more I could have done technically," said Viljoen.

"So now it's back to training etc and I'm definitely targeting Tokyo, 2020 which will be my fifth Olympics and as far as I know, no South African athlete has done five Olympics."

Sandwiched between Viljoen's bronze, Samaai's bronze and Manyonga's gold was bronze for SA's T38 shot putter Hamman.

A gold medallist in the javelin at the Rio Paralympics two years ago, Hamman only had the shot put event to take part in at these Games. It's most definitely not his best event and he has had to adapt his technique after knee surgery post-Rio.

But it was good for a medal on the night, with his 13.15m effort a season's best as Australia's Cameron Crombie won with a 15.74m heave.

And while the medals were being won for South Africa, the team's remaining 200m sprinter Clarence Munyai booked at least one place for SA in Thursday's final.

Munyai started in lane three and sailed around the bend to end second (20.36sec) behind Canada's Aaron Brown (20.18).

The Pretoria youngster slowed up remarkably inside the last 10m, as he leaned back on his heels.

Whether it was a case of conserving energy for the final or something more worrying wasn't immediately evident as he hurried through the mixed media zone at pace, not stopping for interviews.

Read full story on Team SA website


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