Six years ago Luvo Manyonga was a crystal meth ‘tic’ addict. Now he is an Olympic silver medalist and his journey from the townships to ‘flying to Rio 2016 glory’ has been well documented across the web. I feel so blessed to have recently had the privilege of briefly interviewing this extraordinary athlete, and hugely inspiring human, here on The Legacy Project to try and go a bit deeper to find out what he believes contributed towards his Olympic achievement in Rio, where, now almost 3 years later, he is in his life and what it takes for this supreme South African athlete to keep believing that he will still be the first man ever to jump more than 9 metres.
My Definition Of Success | I think my definition of success has changed over the years. When I was younger success was probably more about my athletic achievements and being the best in the world in long jump. Although that is still there, now success for me also incorporates elements like happiness, helping others and giving of your best. I know now that no matter how far I jump, success is defined by so much more in life. If I can inspire others through not only my athletics career, but through the man I am, I think I will have been successful.
I Am Driven By | Ever since I first competed in the Long Jump at school I have wanted to make the world record my own, and be the first person to jump over 9m. Those athletic goals get me out of bed every day and help me push through the hard training. But more than that, I am driven by the need to show people that anything is possible if you commit to something and focus on working hard at that thing. I want my life to be an example to others of what is possible.
A Key Talent | I love competing and that’s a large part of being successful. I love the pressure moment and competing in front of a packed stadium – the bigger moment the more I enjoy it, and so instead of becoming tense, I can actually relax more and thrive on the atmosphere.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | ‘You are made for more than this’ given to me by a friend when I was really struggling. It helped me see that I had so much more to achieve and give in both athletics and life.
Dealing With Fear and Doubt | We all have some self-doubt and negativity sometimes and for me it was probably when I was making a comeback before the Rio Olympic Games. After a few years away from the sport I wondered how I would do – but I very quickly found the passion for the sport and competing again, and this helped me to focus on training hard and enjoying every minute of being back in the game!
Lessons I Have Learnt | One of the lessons I have learnt is to just focus on yourself and not worry what others are doing. As soon as you start to focus on everybody else you lose sight of what you should be doing.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I still have the World Record to get!
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | Of course, I want part of my legacy to be that I broke the World Record and became the first person to jump over 9 metres – I want to be known as the best there has ever been in Long Jump. But I also want my athletics achievements to leave a more meaningful and lasting legacy – a legacy that inspires people to overcome difficulties in life and reach for their own dreams.