Launching an African record, Olympic long jump silver medallist Luvo Manyonga climbed the world all-time list with a best leap of 8.62m on the first day of the Athletics Gauteng North Championships in Pretoria on Friday (17).
Manyonga improved Khotso Mokoena’s national and continental record he set in Madrid in July 2009 by 12 centimetres.
The leap – which is the longest in the world since 2009 – catapulted the 26-year-old to joint 12th place on the world all-time list, tied with Jamaica’s James Beckford.
Bettering his career best he set in Brussels in September last year by 14 centimetres, Manyonga has taken aim at Mike Powell’s world record of 8.95m from 1991.
“The world record has been a goal for me even before I started doing long jump, and I want to be the first person on earth to jump over nine metres,” Manyonga said.
“If you see what I am jumping now, you can see there is something in my legs. At the moment I am jumping at 99 percent.
“I’m very happy with myself where I am changing the game, I think it is time to take the limelight from the track and put it on the field events.”
Manyonga produced an impressive series of jumps, opening with the 8.62m leap before adding a sequence of 8.29m, 8.34m and 8.34m.
Zazini breaks world U18 best
The two-day championships produced more record-breaking performances with 16-year-old Sokwakhana Zazini setting a world U18 best in the 400m hurdles (84cm) with a time of 48.84. He chopped 0.17 off the previous mark set by USA’s William Wynne in 2007.
“I ran really well, I am speechless about the performance but I knew since the beginning of the year that it would happen,” Zazini said.
Zazini is in the same training group as 2011 world bronze medallist LJ van Zyl, who he considers as a mentor. Notably, Van Zyl owns the fastest time ever recorded by an U18 athlete over the senior height barriers with 48.89.
The second day produced more stellar performances with world U20 200m silver medallist Gift Leotlela breaking the South African junior 100m record when he clocked 10.12 in the morning heats.
The 18-year-old shaved 0.07 off South African senior record-holder Akani Simbine’s previous mark he set at the Zone 6 Games in Zambia in December 2012.
Simbine posted a time of 9.98 in the heats before dipping below 10 seconds for the 10th time in his career in the final in the afternoon.
Following behind Simbine, Thando Roto became the fifth South African to post a sub-10 second time, crossing the line in 9.95 to take 0.23 off his previous best.
It was the first time that two South African men had dipped below 10 seconds in the same race.
Roto had the Olympic 100m finalist’s number for the majority of the race, but Simbine recovered well over the final 30 metres to claim the victory.
Only after speaking to the media it dawned on Roto he became the second-fastest South African in history behind Simbine.
“I just realised now that I am the second-fastest South African behind Akani,” Roto said before he burst out laughing. “It just clicked now.”
Ockert de Villiers for the IAAF