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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Manuel joins 8m club at ASA Athletix Invitational Meet to underline UJ jumps dominance

Although his teammate Cheswill Johnson won the long jump with a leap of 8.14m in his very last effort of the day, Divan Manuel's performance in Ruimsig yesterday underlined the excellent work being done by the jumps team at the University of Johannesburg. The 24-year old lead the competition right from the get-go as he flirted with the 8 metre mark before jumping to a new personal best of 8.02m much to the delight of his coach Roger Haitengi who was paying close attention to proceedings.

Manuel jumping to an 8.02m personal best during the ASA Athletix Invitational Meet at the Ruimsig Stadium. Photo Credit: Stillwater Sports.

What is most impressive about Manuel's showing at yesterday's Athletix Invitational Meet organised by Athletics South Africa and powered by Avanti is that he only returned to training roughly a month ago. "He got back three to four weeks ago and we focussed mainly on getting him into spikes, doing a couple of approaches and a few jumps, because obviously he came already fit and in shape. Nothing hectic. We weren't really focussing on this competition but building up to SA Champs," explained Namibia's Haitengi who himself earned a bronze medal at the 2014 African Championships.

Having gone past the magical 8 metre mark, the man from UJ is now aiming to make this a habit rather than occasional venture into the rarified air reserved for elite jumpers. Haitengi says that is precisely the plan for the rest of 2021. "Our goal from the start was obviously getting eight, but obviously the goal is jumping consistently between 7.9m and 8 plus metres easily. We are not focussed too much on the distance but more on the technical aspects," said the Namibian whose potential as a coach first came to the fore when he trained as an athlete under the guidance of renowned jumps technician Emmarie Fouché-Prinsloo.

Cheswill Johnson won the competition with a leap of 8.14. Photo Credit: Stillwater Sports.

In a season that has seen the absence of seasoned world beaters such as Luvo Manyoga, Zarck Visser and the possible retirement of Khotso Mokoena, Manuel's foray beyond eight metres three weeks after Johnson's world lead 8.27m heralds the arrival of a new generation of world class South African jumpers. That they happen to be from UJ again speaks volumes about what Haitengi and company are doing right to develop future champions.

"Generally we have a culture of producing good jumpers. From Francois Fouché back then when it was the Rand Afrikaans University to Zarck Visser, Ruswahl Samaai, Khotso Mokoena, Dylan Cotter nowadays - there's so many 8 metre guys there. It's amazing! So I think when it comes to jumps a lot of guys want to come to UJ. It's generally about the programme we have at UJ Athletics. We support the guys, we take them through to help them advance in their career and also help them improve in their education. Experienced guys help the younger guys by giving them words of wisdom. All those elements play a role which results in guys going over 8m in the long jump and 16m in the triple jump as well as ladies over 13m and 14m in the triple jump and 6m in the long jump. That is the secret," he shared.

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