JOHANNESBURG – Luvo Manyonga made one big leap towards making up for his narrow Rio Olympics defeat by beating a world-class field at the Shanghai Diamond League on Saturday.

The Olympic silver medallist making a soaring start to his international season and threw down the gauntlet, launching a characteristically massive opening jump before leaping to a new Diamond League record of 8.61m on his final attempt.

It was a confidence-boosting display by the South African as he beat Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the United States.

The Shanghai Diamond League was devoid of the drama of the Olympic Games last August, where Henderson beat Manyonga by one centimetre on his final jump, but instead highlighted the South African’s dominance in the event.

Manyonga boasts the world lead with the South African and African record of 8.65m from the South African championships, which launched him into 11th place on the world all-time list.

“The track was really fast and that made it difficult and I did a few fouls, and that was a distraction,” Manyonga told the IAAF website.

“I didn’t get the distance I wanted today as I was looking for 8.80m, but I know it will come.

“I am pleased to win again. My success has been down to hard work, training, dedication and commitment. I hope now to just go on and win everything I can this season.”

The 25-year-old has certainly raised the level of long jump in the world, which has become a bit stale in recent years.

Manyonga has leapt over 8.60m three times this year already, and it seems like it is only a matter of time before he reaches 8.70m and further as he looks to edge closer to the world record.

Compatriot Ruswahl Samaai finished in fifth place with a leap of 8.18m, with former South African record holder Khotso Mokoena posting a season’s best of 7.85m for eighth place.

With his first attempt Manyonga set a new meet record of 8.48m, while his nearest rivals battled to land jumps further than 8.20m.

After recording a no-jump with his second effort, Manyonga extended his lead by one centimetre to tighten his grip on the victory.

Manyonga failed to record legal jumps on his fourth and fifth attempts before he wrapped up his Shanghai experience with the 8.61m jump.

The Chinese duo of Gao Xinglong and Huang Changzhou finished in second and third place respectively with 8.22m and 8.20m.

Showing good early form, South African 400m hurdles record-holder LJ van Zyl claimed his second consecutive podium finish in the Diamond League.

American Bershawn Jackson clocked a fast 48.63 seconds, with Van Zyl following behind him in second place with a time of 49.35. Rasmus Magi of Estonia rounded off the podium with a time of 49.38.

Van Zyl beat a quality field, including Olympic champion Kerron Clement of the United States and defending world champion Nicholas Bett of Kenya.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world in a cold and dreary Pretoria, perennial South African 100m bronze medallist Emile Erasmus chopped 0.13 off his personal best by clocking 10.08 at a Gauteng North League meeting on Saturday.

His time launched him into fourth place on the South African rankings for the season behind national record-holder Akani Simbine, Thando Roto and Wayde van Niekerk.

Racing in his first 200m this season, world bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana posted a solid 20.69 to win his race.

Independent Media

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