Luvo Manyonga of South Africa leaps to Long Jump gold with 7.99m (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Manyonga follows in Mokoena's footsteps

Africans usually excel at middle and long distance running.

However, that seems to be changing for at least one African nation at the World Junior Championships level. 

South African, Luvo Manyonga, on Tuesday became only the second person from the continent to secure a medal in the horizontal jumps in the history of the World Junior Championships here in Moncton, Canada.

The 19-year-old leapt 7.99 metres into a negative wind of (-1.0 m/s) to win the long jump, joining compatriot Godfrey Khotso Mokoena, who secured the triple jump gold and long jump silver at the 2004 Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

“It makes me feel good because only two South Africans have ever won medals (in the horizontal jumps) at the World Junior Championships,” Manyonga said. 

Subsequent to winning medals in the horizontal jumps at the World Junior level, Mokoena has won silver medals at the senior world champions and Olympics.

Manyonga wants to emulate him.

“My plan is to attain top ranking among the seniors and I would like to win a medal at the London Olympics in 2012,” he said, while confessing that he was nervous during the final.

“The wind was a problem for me in Tuesday’s competition.”

Manyonga, who has personal best of 8.19m attained earlier this month,  is targeting the world junior record of 8.34m established by American Randy Williams way back in 1972, when he competes at the Commonwealth Games in October.

“The target for the Commonwealth Games is to jump 8.35m for the World Junior record,” the lanky athlete posited.

Like many before him, Manyonga sees the sport of track and field as an avenue to elevate his family up the social ladder.

“I’m helping my mother a lot just because she is not working in a good position as a domestic worker and my father is not working,” reasoned the teary eyed Manyonga, who has a brother and sister.

Kayon Raynor for the IAAF