Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
10 Jun 2017
10:41 am

Luvo Manyonga is trying to leap for cloud nine

Wesley Botton

No man has ever broken the magical 9m mark in the long jump but South Africa's leaping sensation believes he can do it.

Luvo Manyonga wants to make history. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

As confident as he is of becoming only the second South African track and field athlete in more than 40 years to break a world record, Luvo Manyonga still has some work to do to establish his place as the best long jumper in the 116-year recorded history of the discipline.

Just one ruler’s length away from the long-standing global mark held by American Mike Powell, however, the lanky Tuks athlete believes it’s just a matter of time before he eclipses the 8.95m standard.

“I want to be the first person over nine metres, and I’m going to do it,” he claimed after breaking the national record for the first time in Pretoria in March.

He was equally bold after adding three centimetres to his own standard at the national championships in Potchefstroom, stating he was “the best jumper in the world, ever”.

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HOW THE LONG JUMP WORLD RECORD EVOLVED

7.98m Tokyo 27 October, 1931

Chuhei Nambu (Jpn)

8.13m Ann Arbor 25 May, 1935

Jesse Owens (US)

8.21m Walnut 12 August, 1960

Ralph Boston (US)

8.24m Modesto 27 May, 1961

Ralph Boston (US)

8.28m Moscow 16 July, 1961

Ralph Boston (US)

8.31m Yerevan 10 June, 1962

Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (USSR)

8.34m Los Angeles 12 September, 1964

Ralph Boston (US)

8.35m Modesto 29 May, 1965

Ralph Boston (US)

8.90m Mexico City 18 October, 1968

Bob Beamon (US)

8.95m Tokyo 30 August, 1991

Mike Powell (US)

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Much like sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, who broke Michael Johnson’s 400m world record at last year’s Rio Olympics, the mark targeted by Manyonga is considered one of the toughest in the books.

Should he better the existing record, Manyonga would become only the third man in nearly 49 years to improve the global record after Bob Beamon in 1968 and Powell in 1991.

He would also be the first African athlete to hold the world record in the long jump, with no man or woman from the continent having bettered either standard since the International Association of Athletics Federations recognised the first official men’s mark of 7.61m set by Ireland’s Peter O’Connor in Dublin in 1901.

But as challenging as it may be to notch up such a special place in athletics history, Manyonga’s recent performances offer a clear indication that Powell’s mark is within reach.

Since returning to the sport last season after a four-year hiatus, the 26-year-old athlete has improved his personal best by 39 centimetres, and his national mark of 8.65m places him 11th in the global all-time rankings.

Aiming for consistent progression, time will tell if he can continue his rapid improvement, but if you believe Manyonga, time is all he needs.

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