He smiled through the cold, he smiled through the rain, and although the distance between the board and sandpit somewhat curtailed his leap, long-jump world champion Luvo Manyonga has vowed to return Leeside for the 2020 edition of the Cork City Sports.
The 28-year-old South African, who pocketed a silver medal at the Rio Olympics before stepping up to top spot on the rostrum at the 2017 World Championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games, was the star attraction at last night’s BAM Cork City Sports meet and he did not disappoint, setting a stadium and meet record of 8.20m in the penultimate round to comfortably claim the spoils.
Manyonga broke the existing stadium record with his opening jump of 8.11m and although there was a slight shake of the head after his second jump, which registered 7.96m, the South African was in buoyant form throughout the competition, high-fiving officials and even taking the red flag from one after his third effort and waving it before the crowd to signal for a foul.
He shook hands with each of the long-jump officials following the competition’s conclusion and has promised to return next summer, even if there were one or two ropey moments mid-jump where he thought he might land on the far side of the pit.
“It was quite an amazing atmosphere. I had so much fun, even if I was a little scared at going over the top of the pit because it was looking so close on one or two occasions,” said the South African, who has a personal best of 8.65.
“To engage with the crowd is my nature. This is an entertainment sport so I have to engage with the people because those people pay so much money to come here and watch us.
“They have travelled to see us so we have to give them a show.”