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 Women.
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 him.”
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 Johannesburg.
“This was an epic year and not just for myself, but for the team which has been working with me,” Manyonga said.
“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 deserved vacation.
“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 something.”
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.
Source : supersport.com