Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
6 Aug 2017
6:53 pm

Deadly duo of Manyonga and Samaai lifts a nation

Wesley Botton

South Africa's long jump sensations are already aiming higher (and further) after their medals at the IAAF World Championships.

National hero: Luvo Manyonga. Photo: Antonin Thuillier/AFP.

By making history with a superb display on Saturday night, long jumpers Ruswahl Samaai and Luvo Manyonga are hoping to not only continue their progress at the highest level, but to inspire a nation in the process.

Manyonga, who earned silver at last year’s Rio Olympics after missing out on gold by one centimetre, earned the global title at the IAAF World Championships with a leap of 8.48m in the first round.

Also read: Luvo Manyonga delivers as South Africa claims its first medals

Samaai, meanwhile, launched a best effort of 8.32m with his final attempt to take the bronze medal.

With both men having grown up in previously disadvantaged areas in the Western Cape, Samaai hoped their double achievement would offer some hope to younger compatriots facing challenging circumstances.

“We’re not just representing ourselves. We’re representing so many people who believe in us,” said the 25-year-old Samaai.

“There are so many kids looking for an escape, and this could be their escape. They know they can also do it, they just need to step up to their abilities, get the support and make it.

“Luvo was a drug addict, and he just came back and won a freaking gold medal at the World Championships, so that’s a major story for him.

“Me, I had to walk 10km to the track and back each and every single day (as a teenager).”

Having overcome their own personal battles to beat the best in the world, Samaai felt they could inject the confidence required in other South Africans to accomplish their own feats, both in sport and in life.

“Now we’re both standing on the podium, not just representing ourselves but every person who is coming through the same circumstances.”

Manyonga, who beat recreational drug addiction to make it to the top in his specialist discipline, said they were just getting going, and he expected them to reach even greater heights.

Already tipped as a world record holder in his specialist discipline, he believed they were ready to soar.

“This is not the end,” said the 26-year-old Manyonga, who added the global senior crown to the world junior title he won in 2010.

“We’re still going to show the world what South Africa is made of.”

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