Manyonga fights back to take gold in style, Samaai takes bronze

Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai of South Africa during the Medal Ceremony of the Men's Long Jump Final on day 7 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium Track on April 11, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. Manyonga won gold while Sammai bagged bronze.
Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai of South Africa during the Medal Ceremony of the Men's Long Jump Final on day 7 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium Track on April 11, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. Manyonga won gold while Sammai bagged bronze.
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Luvo Manyonga delivered when it mattered most in Gold Coast on Wednesday night — under pressure and staring the spectre of defeat straight in the face.

The men’s long jump title was supposed to be his for the taking‚ but when Australian Henry Frayne soared to 8.33m to take the lead in the second round‚ it looked like the script had been tailor-made for the partisan fans of Carrara Stadium. 

This was a gold mine for the Aussies on Wednesday‚ winning several events‚ including the women’s javelin and the men’s F38 shot put‚ where Sunette Viljoen and Reinhardt Hamman took bronze behind two Australians. 

Heck‚ even across town at the lawn bowls SA’s visually impaired pair was beaten by Australians. 

World champion Manyonga and world championship bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai were SA’s last hopes to get a gold on the day‚ and there was an Aussie standing in the way. 

Frayne scored the first real blow to push Manyonga into second and Samaai third. 

But like a felled boxer‚ Manyonga rose with purpose in his heart and he struck back in the fourth round‚ leaping to an 8.35m Games record. 

That did the damage‚ with the homeboy no-jumping his last two attempts‚ but Manyonga wasn’t done yet. He wanted the knockout. 

He rocketed to 8.41m on his final take-off to make his point. 

“I really like that‚” Manyonga said afterwards. “It’s the competition that pushes you to do better. 

“When he took the lead‚ I said to myself‚ is this the end? No‚” said Manyonga‚ adding he needed a little time to get used to the track. 

He had only one jump in the qualifying round the day before. 

Samaai didn’t record a single no-jump‚ and four times he cleared 8m‚ with 8.22m on his second leap bagging the bronze‚ SA’s third on the day. 

That’s the same colour he took four years ago.

“I’m not happy. I came here with a lot of expectation. I got a bronze in Glasgow and I wanted to upgrade to silver or gold.”

But there’s no disgrace in consistency either. 

Frayne‚ who has struggled with injury for much of his career‚ could only praise Manyonga. “He’s a true champion and he responded like one.”

Team SA’s five medals on the day — one gold‚ one silver and three bronze — lifted the team to fourth on the medals table‚ above New Zealand‚ Canada and Scotland. 

But they were dealt a blow after Anaso Jobodwana had seemingly crashed out for Thurdsay’s 200m final‚ when he was later disqualified for a false start. 

He had fallen out his blocks as the gun sounded‚ and after officials had discussed the issue‚ he was shown a green card and permitted to run. 

The SA team’s attempt to appeal came to naught. 

That leaves Clarence Munyai as the only SA hope in the 200m‚ although he didn’t look happy coming off the track after his semifinal‚ declining to talk to journalists on his way through the mixed zone. 

Also in action on Thursday are Wenda Nel in the women’s 400m hurdles final‚ Hilton Langenhoven and Ndodomzi Ntutu in the T12 100m. 

In the bowls‚ the disabled triple take on England for the bronze medal‚ and Petrus Breitenbach and the women’s pair contest quarterfinals.​

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