Luvo Manyonga and Jeff Henderson celebrate after winning silver and gold respectively at the Olympics. Photo: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado
JOHANNESBURG - Beating a quality field including American Olympic champion Jeff Henderson will go a long to erasing Luvo Manyonga’s one-centimetre loss at last year’s Rio Games when he lines up at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on Saturday.

It will be a historic day, with three South Africans entered for the long jump - including former national record holder Khotso Mokoena and Ruswahl Samaai.

It will be the first time since Rio that Manyonga faces Henderson, who narrowly beat him for the Olympic title last year.

Mokoena will also look to exact revenge after Manyonga demolished his SA record in March before leaping to another continental best of 8.65 metres last month.

The meet is effectively a repeat of the Olympics final with the top six from Rio entered on Saturday.

Manyonga’s coach Neil Cornelius said while a lot has been made about his charge’s ability to break the world record, their focus was on beating a loaded field.

“My expectation for Luvo is to win, the distance is not an issue for me. I know there is a lot of talk about him jumping further than nine metres and although I am confident it will happen, he needs to send out a message to his competitors,” Cornelius said.

“This is a meeting of taking revenge for the Olympics and we are not scared of these guys, they don’t intimidate us.”

Manyonga has been the event's gold standard this season having improved his personal best from last year by 17 centimetres.

While Manyonga will face a quality field, none of them with the exception of Samaai are close to the form he is in.

The 25-year-old's SA record of 8.65m moved him into 11th place on the world all-time list.

Based on form, Samaai goes into the meet as Manyonga’s biggest threat with his personal best of 8.49m at the recent SA Championships.

Cornelius said Manyonga took a short break after the nationals before they made adjustments to his balance.

“Luvo has the tendency to drift to the right when he gets to the take-off board which sees him lose some distance with his jumps,” Cornelius said.

“There has been improvements and this will be a fantastic preparation for the world championships (in London in August).”

Completing the SA challenge in Shanghai, national 400m hurdles record holder LJ van Zyl faces Olympic champ Kerron Clement of the US and world champ Nicholas Bett of Kenya.

The Star

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