SA long jump star Jovan van Vuuren not giving up on world championship dream despite injury

FILE - Jovan van Vuuren of South Africa in action at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Ryan Browne/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

FILE - Jovan van Vuuren of South Africa in action at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Ryan Browne/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Mar 9, 2023


Cape Town — South African long jump champion Jovan van Vuuren “nearly feinted” when his doctor told him he had suffered a serious hamstring injury, but he is not giving up on 2023 without a fight.

The 26-year-old Tuks Sport athlete won the national title at the Green Point Athletics Stadium in Cape Town last April with a distance of 8.04 metres, beating Cheswill Johnson (8.02m) with a dramatic final-round jump in windy conditions.

His best effort last year was a personal best of 8.16m, which placed him 17th on the world list, and he went on to gain further success with a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August — where he reached a mark of 8.06m, just behind champion LaQuan Nairn of the Bahamas and silver medallist Murali Sreeshankar, who both produced 8.08m jumps.

The next big step for Van Vuuren is the world championships in Budapest in August, but he is in a race against time to get fit and be in top shape in Hungary.

He won’t be able to defend his SA title at the national championships in Potchefstroom from 30 March-1 April, though, after exacerbating a hamstring injury this week that he had sustained in January.

“According to the doctor, I possibly injured my takeoff leg by over-striding when going for the jump. It is not something that just happened now. It has been a long-time wear-and-tear scenario on my hamstring,” Van Vuuren said in a Tuks Sport statement this week.

“I nearly fainted when the doctor told me I couldn’t compete. Sadly, it has to happen now.

“I really hoped to make the A-final at the world championships. I know I will be back, but it will take time. Most importantly is that I should keep hope.

“Luckily, my strength and conditioning coach, Niel du Plessis, does not believe in giving up. He already has a plan to get me ‘flying and landing’ going for big distances.

“My rehabilitation starts on (Thursday) morning. In the afternoons, I will be in the gym cycling. The aim of doing so is to improve the blood circulation in my leg.

“I will also go for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. It will be costly. At a rough estimate, it could amount to R60 000, but I owe myself to do so. You can’t put a monetary cap on your dreams, especially as an athlete.”

As he won’t be able to compete in the South African season, Van Vuuren will have to crack some invites internationally in order to qualify for the world championships — and he will hope that his Commonwealth Games performance will influence organisers to call on him.

He will have to leap to a new personal best by at least 9cm, though, as the qualifying mark for Budapest is 8.25m.


IOL Sport

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