Athletics 11.5.2017 04:55 pm

Luvo Manyonga’s simple if daring plan for Shanghai

Luvo Manyonga has plan for keeping up his great form. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

Luvo Manyonga has plan for keeping up his great form. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

South Africa’s long jump kingpin is the favourite for the weekend’s Diamond League meet but then he’ll have to heed his coach’s mantra.

If Luvo Manyonga had to pin up a poster before the weekend’s Diamond League meet in Shanghai, the message would be simple.

“Make the first jump count”.

Conventional wisdom tells South Africa’s current long jump kingpin he could pace himself but that’s not the way the 25-year-old sees it.

Instead, if he’s going to maintain his cracking current form – he’s jumped an African record of 8.65m in 2017 already – Manyonga will have get the first punch in on Saturday.

He admits his strategy of getting the first jump right is based on last year’s chaos at the National Champs in Stellenbosch.

Manyonga overstepped five times during that meet and struggled for momentum.

He doesn’t want to experience that again.

“That was definitely a turning point in my career,” said Manyonga, a silver medallist at last year’s Olympics.

“Ever since my coach keeps reminding me that with a good first jump you buy five more.”

But his coach, Neil Cornelius, has another reason for insisting he set the platform early.

“I think in Shanghai the athletes might just be vying to get a psychological upper hand. One good jump for any athlete could get the others to start worrying,” said Cornelius.

Indeed, Manyonga is competing against a high-quality field.

One of his competitors is American Jeff Henderson, the man who pipped him for gold in Rio.

He’ll also have to be wary of fellow countryman Khotso Mokoena and Rushwal Samaai.

Samaai, however, is the only competitor at the moment who’s in decent form.

Not that that will make Manyonga complacent.

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