JOHANNESBURG – Come rain or sunshine Luvo Manyonga will not be deterred, with the South African leaping to a world lead in trying conditions at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on Saturday.
The long-jump world champion has been the king of the sandpit, extending his unbeaten streak outdoors to a year and nine months.
Manyonga ensured his Shanghai win, a world-leading leap of 8.56 metres, with his final attempt after absorbing some early pressure.
The South African recorded no jumps on his two opening attempts with China’s Shi Yuhao taking the lead on his second jump.
Manyonga clawed his way into contention with a third-round jump of 8.11m before taking the lead, matching Shi’s jump of 8.43m.
Shi then reclaimed the lead with his second-best effort of 8.21m relegating the South African to silver with two more jumps remaining.
Relishing the pressure Manyonga landed his winning jump on his final attempt just five centimetres short of his meet record.
“When Shi went out to 8.43m, I said to myself, I have to think straight,” Manyonga told the Diamond League website. “This competition is not a walk in the park. I was really pleased to respond with 8.43m and 8.56m.”
“I think you will see that the long jump will be the event to watch this season. I am happy and satisfied with today.”
Shi had to be content with the silver medal while Commonwealth Games silver medallist Henry Fraye of Australia finished in the bronze medal, third place with a best effort of 8.15m.
Manyonga has only been beaten once over the last year when rising Cuban star Juan Miguel Echevarria finished ahead of him at the IAAF World Indoor Championships earlier this season.
Adding to his achievement, Manyonga also finished ahead of Olympic champion Jeff Henderson, relegating the American to second place on the world rankings.
South African women’s 400m hurdles ace Wenda Nel just missed out on a podium as she finished fourth in a time of 55.63 seconds.
She crossed the line 0.40s behind the third-placed Sage Watson of the United States whose compatriot, Delilah Muhammad, the Olympic champion, won in 53.77.
Olympic javelin silver medallist Sunette Viljoen found the going tough in Shanghai as she finished in sixth place with a best heave of 60.79m.
Chinese thrower Huihui Luy bagged the gold medal with a best effort of 66.85m.
Middle-distance runner Rynardt van Rensburg finished eighth in the men’s 800m race clocking 1:46.57 to complete the South African contingent’s campaign in Shanghai.