Nerveless Manyonga expresses relief at Shanghai win

Luvo Manyonga.

Ironically though the long jump world champion still actually managed to stroll to his gold.

Wesley Botton

Holding his nerve to outclass a strong field, Luvo Manyonga said he was relieved to secure a convincing victory after carrying the four-member South African contingent at the Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on Saturday.

Manyonga was placed under early pressure in the men’s long jump, achieving his first legal attempt in the third round when he leaped 8.11m to make the halfway cut, with Chinese opponent Shi Yuhao taking the lead with a second-round effort of 8.43m.

Maintaining his composure, Manyonga matched Shi’s distance with a fourth-round leap of 8.43m, taking the advantage on countback.

And while Shi looked to have picked up an ankle injury with his final attempt, Manyonga stamped his authority on the contest with the world champion making sure by racking up a best effort of 8.56m in the last round.

Though the South African star landed five centimetres short of his own meeting record of 8.61m set last season, and nine centimetres shy of his 8.65m national record, he climbed to the top of the 2018 long jump world rankings.

“When Shi went out to 8.43m, I said to myself: ‘I have to think straight’,” Manyonga told the IAAF website.

“This competition was not a walk in the park. I was really pleased to respond.”

In other disciplines at the second of 14 legs in the Diamond League campaign, Wenda Nel settled for fourth place in the women’s 400m hurdles race in 55.63, well behind Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad of the United States who won a hard-fought battle up front in 53.77.

Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen ended sixth in her specialist event, going beyond 60 metres with only one of her six attempts after her fourth-round effort landed at 60.79m, and Rynardt van Rensburg struggled to put up a fight in a fast race, finishing eighth in the men’s 800m contest in 1:46.57.

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