Athletics 14.8.2016 07:16 am

Manyonga shines for SA on Day 8

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 13:  Luvo Manyonga of South Africa competes during the Men's Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 13: Luvo Manyonga of South Africa competes during the Men's Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Resurgent long jumper Luvo Manyonga was the best of the SA contingent in action in Rio on Sunday morning, earning the nation’s sixth medal at the Olympic Games.

The 25-year-old athlete, who returned to competition this season after winning a lengthy battle against recreational drug addiction, racked up another triumph to step on the podium at the multi-sport showpiece, grabbing the nation’s first track and field medal.

Manyonga launched a personal best effort of 8.37m in the penultimate round and was looking good for the gold medal, but Jeff Henderson of the United States snatched the title with his final attempt, landing one centimetre further with a jump of 8.38m to take the title.

Manyonga was nonetheless delighted with his effort.

“It’s a competition and anything can happen. I wasn’t disappointed,” he said afterwards.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 13: Luvo Manyonga of South Africa celebrates with Jeff Henderson of the United States after the Men's Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 13: Luvo Manyonga of South Africa celebrates with Jeff Henderson of the United States after the Men’s Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Compatriot Ruswahl Samaai, who was also considered a medal contender, finished in ninth position after he failed to make the midway cut with a best leap of 7.97m.

In other events on the second day of track and field competition, Stephen Mokoka was unable to maintain the relentless pace at the front of the field in the men’s 10 000m final and eventually trailed home in 18th position, though he received some consolation by setting a season’s best of 27:54.57.

Mo Farah of Great Britain defended his title in 27:05.17.

World champion Wayde van Niekerk finished second in his 400m semifinal in 44.45.
Van Niekerk was set to compete in the final on Sunday morning (SA time), lining up against defending champion and title favourite Kirani James of Grenada who clocked 44.02 to win his race in the penultimate round.

“I feel very positive and comfortable, and the nerves are all washed out now, so I’ll go back and recover, and I’ll work towards tomorrow,” Van Niekerk said.

Sprinter Carina Horn was knocked out in the semifinals of the women’s 100m dash, with the joint SA record holder clocking 11.20 to end sixth in her heat, and she was unable to progress.

Rynardt van Rensburg produced a personal best of 1:45.33 in the men’s 800m semifinals, but he settled for fifth position in his race and was also knocked out.

Earlier, speedster Akani Simbine won his 100m heat in 10.14, booking his place in Monday morning’s semifinals, while compatriot Henricho Bruintjes was sixth in his first-round race in 10.33 and he was eliminated.

Tsholofelo Thipe (52.80) and Justine Palframan (53.96) ended fourth and seventh in their respective 400m heats and they were also set to return home.

Elsewhere on day eight of the Games, golfer Jaco van Zyl was in a tie for 39th place, two over par, despite firing a hole-in-one on the par-three eighth hole.

Brandon Stone was in 50th position, five over par, well off the pace of British leader Justine Rose who was on 12 under.

Sailor Stefano Marcia ended 39th and 40th in the ninth and 10th races of the men’s laser class.

It was also revealed that Irvette van Zyl had been withdrawn from the women’s marathon race, to be held on Sunday, due to a foot injury.

Compatriots Lebo Phalula and Christine Kalmer would be the only SA women in the 42km contest.

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