Long jumper Luvo Manyonga opened his international campaign in explosive fashion on Saturday, taking a commanding victory at the Diamond League meeting in Shanghai.
After opening with a leap of 8.48m, and improving marginally to 8.49m in the third round, Manyonga launched a massive 8.61m jump with his sixth and final attempt to wrap up a convincing win.
It was his third jump over 8.60 metres this year, carrying his impressive form on the domestic circuit into the early stages of the international season, as he missed his own South African record by four centimetres.
Gao Xinglong of China took second place, well behind Manyonga with a best effort of 8.22m. African champion Ruswahl Samaai settled for fifth place with a leap of 8.18m, and former SA record holder Khotso Mokoena ended eighth with a best attempt of 7.85m.
Earlier, LJ van Zyl took a step forward by snatching second place in the men’s 400m hurdles, after grabbing third spot at the first leg of the Diamond League series in Doha last week.
Starting well, Van Zyl led the race for the runner-up spot behind runaway American leader Bershawn Jackson, holding off a late charge from Estonian Rasmus Magi and Olympic champion Kerron Clement of the US to cross the line in 49.35.
He was just 0.06 outside his season’s best set in Pretoria last month.
Jackson charged to a comfortable victory in 48.63.
“I’m on my way to a good season,” Van Zyl, the SA record holder in his specialist discipline, told the event website.
“My first time racing in Shanghai was in 2008, and nine years later I still enjoy running here.”
The third leg of the Diamond League series will be held in Eugene on May 26.