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EXCLUSIVE: Luvo Manyonga’s downfall and his steadfast commitment to ascend once again

SA long jump star Luvo Manyonga has detailed how the death of his mother has taken a toll on him, contributing to his downfall. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

SA long jump star Luvo Manyonga has detailed how the death of his mother has taken a toll on him, contributing to his downfall. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 23, 2021


Cape Town - In an exclusive interview with the Cape Times, SA long jump star Luvo Manyonga has detailed how the death of his mother has taken a toll on him, contributing to his downfall.

He spoke for the first time, after being handed a four-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), for “whereabouts failures”.

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The 30-year-old from humble beginnings in Mbekweni, Paarl, who has battled with drug addiction in the past, said he was ready to fight his demons.

He said he is ready to come back stronger and better than before. after failing three tests from the world athletics.

“I was nowhere to be found for my tribunal and the cause of that is finances, but I am not making that an excuse for my behaviour. It's just … not being stable and focusing on my career, doing some stuff that normal people do,” he said.

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Manyonga said the death of his mother Joyce, at the end of last year, had taken a severe toll on him.

Video: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

“I found about two months ago that it's not myself who is going off track. I went to consult a traditional healer and he prophesied about what is going on in my life and my late mother. When my mother died, apparently I was the one who was supposed to die and I was told that I was going to die by a gun. According to my culture, I was supposed to do a ceremony to thank my ancestors, who made it possible for me to be where I was. I never did ask for acknowledgement from them and they are very angry at me,” said Manyongo.

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“My agency just dropped me in a manner that ... I (dont have) potential anymore. I never had an opportunity to update my whereabouts myself. I do not understand how my agency did not know about my whereabouts because they knew I was with my sister and they are the ones who controlled my money.

“I am not blaming them for my mistakes. but that gave them power to take advantage of me,” said Manyonga.

When he comes back to compete, Manyonga said he would shock the world.

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He added that he still had the goal to start a youth academy and give back to his community.

Video: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

In a summary. in explaining the decision of the AIU disciplinary tribunal, sole arbitrator William Norris QC, of London, noted that Manyonga had three whereabouts failures – which entails not submitting “your whereabouts by a required deadline, or not updating your whereabouts, or it was filed in an incomplete, inaccurate or insufficient manner, or that you are not available for a doping test when required.”

With Manyonga, the AIU said that he had had three whereabouts failures, within a 12-month period, beginning November 26, 2019 – a missed test on November 26, 2019; a filing failure effective April 1, 2020, and another filing failure effective October 1, 2020.

But the AIU said, because it was Manyonga’s second anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), the ban was increased to four years instead of two, as well as a nearly R20 000 award to World Athletics that the athlete will have to pay.

World Athletics said Manyonga had made no submission in mitigation.

Athletics South Africa, at the weekend, committed themselves to assisting Manyonga and said they were “totally gutted” by the four-year ban, and they would continue with the process of sending out a “seek-and-find intervention team” to help him.

Manyonga won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as gold at the 2017 world championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games. He is also the SA record holder, with a distance of 8.65m.

The family learnt about his ban on social media.

They are hopeful that if Manyonga can receive the help he requires, he would return to the sport and do what he loves.

His father John appealed for the public’s support, as his son aims to appeal the ban.

“I know my son very well, he is a fighter. I noticed – at a very young age – that he is going to be something because he liked accompanying me when I go to play rugby and, after some years, we played together and he was good. Also, his older brother was very good at soccer.

“We ask the people not to give up on him,” said John Manyonga.

Community leader Christopher Mangena described Manyonga as a star that emerged from Mbekweni, who inherited sport from his father.

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