Luvo Manyonga punches the air on Sunday night after receiving his gold medal. Photo: Reuters

Newly crowned world champion Luvo Manyonga arrived back in the country on Saturday carrying a smile brighter than the shiny gold medal around his neck.

Without a single blemish to his name, Luvo Manyonga completed his season by winning 10 out of 10 meetings and announcing himself as the man to beat in the long jump.

With his world championships gold medal and IAAF Diamond League Trophy on display, Manyonga vowed that his stellar performances on the global stage was only the opening act.

“I promise next year I will be at another level, every year it will be at a higher level, and I want to retire as the first person to reach nine metres and it is going to happen,” Manyonga said.

“It’s been a happy year for me, I am proud of myself and proud of the team I’ve been working with, without the team I wouldn’t have had the year that I had.”

Manyonga’s season came to a climactic end adding the overall Diamond League long-jump title after he won the final in Zurich on Thursday with a best leap of 8.49m.

Highlighting his charge’s superb feats this season, coach Neil Cornelius said he had loftier goals for Manyonga.

Luvo Manyonga won the IAAF Diamond League title, having been unbeaten all season. Picture: EPA

“He has been undefeated for 10 meetings now, which is crazy for any athlete in the world, and of the top 10 jumps this year, Luvo has eight of them and all of the top five,” Cornelius said.

“My first goal was for Luvo to be undefeated, every time he lined up in competition, I wanted him to win.

“I’ve got a few goals for Luvo over the next four years, and every single one of them will lead to history.”

Manyonga has proven himself to be a worthy champion producing both locally and at international level.

The South African horizontal jumping phenom reached almost every single goal he set out at the beginning of the season.

He broke the national and continental two times this year, becoming the 11th longest jumper in history with his personal best of 8.65m.

Luvo Manyonga jumped into the sandpit after winning gold at the World Championships in London earlier this month. Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Manyonga fell just short of ticking all the boxes but South Africa’s long-jump king believes there is still plenty of time to reach the apex.

“I wanted to break the world record but when I am forcing it wont come out so I just need to go out there and have fun,” Manyonga said.

I am still jumping, I am still healthy, so the goals that I didn’t make this year, there is still another year coming.”

It proved to be a historic campaign for Manyonga and for that he deserves some time away from the track.

Manyonga was looking to a long break which included a holiday with his family in the Eastern Cape.

“My rest will be six to seven weeks, I will be in East London with my sister, I want to go and see my parents,” Manyonga said.

“I want to take my family for a vacation, just the family, not like other people because we have been working as a family.

“I will be doing something back home and thank them for their support.”

Sunday Independent

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