It’s no surprise to see some of the fledgling top lists for the year stacked with southern hemisphere athletes with their summer coming to an end. Most notable over the years have been the performance of South African athletes and now we have another.
In March last year both Akani Simbine and van Niekerk had gone sub-10 for the 100m—significantly for van Niekerk as he became the first sub-10, sub-20 and sub-44 athlete in history. But more surprising was news this week that long jumper Luvo Manyonga leapt to 8.62m in Pretoria. This is not only a good mark at this point in the season; it’s a performance that puts him 12th on the all-time list.
To add more context, Manyonga has become the 4th best long jumper this century behind Dwight Phillips, Irving Saladino and Louis Tsatoumas. Manyonga, the silver medalist in Rio, would have easily secured gold with this performance (he recorded a best of 8.37m in the final—marginally beaten by Jeff Henderson with 8.38m).
He now also owns the longest leap in the month of March, surpassing Ivan Pedroso’s mark of 8.50m from 1995.
Best long jump performance ever recorded in…
There’s always a cautionary note for early season form: you’ve got to deliver when it counts. None of the top performers in February, March (which remains to be seen), April or May have a senior global title to their name. You only need to look at the names who dominate in the championship months: they are the greatest long jumpers of all time, with five Olympic titles and four world championship golds between them. Manyonga has set down a marker to make his rivals take note, but what matters is what he can do come August.