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Luvo Manyonga rules Britannia again

22 July 2018 - 18:30 By DAVID ISAACSON in London
South Africa's Luvo Manyonga competes in the Men's long jump event during the anniversary games at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London on July 22, 2018.
South Africa's Luvo Manyonga competes in the Men's long jump event during the anniversary games at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London on July 22, 2018.
Image: Ian KINGTON / AFP

Luvo Manyonga ruled the sand pit at the London Olympic Stadium on Sunday once again‚ taking first place in the Anniversary Games ahead of countryman Ruswahl Samaai.

The South African won last year’s world championships here as well as the inaugural World Cup last weekend‚ and he keeps getting better.

He triumphed at the 2017 world championships with an 8.48m effort‚ the World Cup with 8.51m and on Sunday he launched himself to an 8.58m meet record that also matched his season’s best from May.

“This is like my second home‚ I won the world champs here and it’s a great atmosphere‚” said Manyonga‚ 27.

“And the platform is quite nice‚ it feels like the indoor platform and I’m happy with the result‚” said Manyonga‚ who relocated from Pretoria to Port Elizabeth at the end of last year.

For Samaai‚ the bronze medallist here last year‚ his 8.42 was a season’s best and equalled the second best leap of his career.

Behind them was the who’s who of long jumping.

Third was the 2017 world championship silver medallist Jarrion Lawson of the US‚ Australia’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Henry Frayne‚ and Olympic champion Jeff Henderson‚ another American.

This was also Manyonga’s first Diamond League victory since winning in Rome nearly two months ago‚ when he last went 8.58.

In June he went through three competitions in a row without victory — his first failures to win outdoors since the 2016 Rio Games.

And each time Cuban teenager Juan Miguel Echevarria finished top of the podium‚ in Stockholm‚ Ostrava and then Bad Langensalza.

At two of those events Echevarria‚ who also got the better of Manyonga at the world indoor championships earlier this year‚ went 8.68 and 8.66‚ further than Manyonga’s 8.65 personal best.

But Manyonga doesn’t believe he and coach Bradley Agnew need to devise any special plan to battle the new rival for his crown as the world’s best.

“I don’t close any gap on the Cuban‚ I just do my job‚ what I’m supposed to do. We just have to meet at work‚ that’s the only thing we can do.”

Samaai‚ the African long-jump champion from 2016‚ and runner-up Manyonga return to the continental championships in Nigeria from August 1-5.

But at the end of next month the duo are scheduled to go up against the Cuban again in the Diamond League long-jump final in Zurich.

Then there’ll be the 2019 world championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; one of the great rivalries of world track and field awaits.

Earlier‚ Rikenette Steenkamp’s chances of making the 100m hurdles final effectively ended when she hit the first obstruction in her heat.

“I’m not happy with it‚” said Steenkamp‚ who ended fifth in 13.05 with American world record-holder Kendra Harrison winning in 12.50.

“I hit the first hurdle‚ I’ve never done that in my life. It wasn’t a perfect race but not every race can be good.”

The masters student at the University of Pretoria had dipped under 13 seconds in her previous four races‚ but not even the 12.88 she clocked to win the World Cup in this arena last weekend would have got her into yesterday’s final.

In the men’s 110m hurdles Antonio Alkana was fifth in 13.40‚ well behind the winner‚ Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games champion Ronald Levy in 13.13.

And US-based sprinter Ncincilili Titi made his debut as a professional athlete‚ finishing seventh in the men’s 200m in 20.44sec.