It’s that time of the year when we draw up our list of Top 10 Athletes in Africa, analyzing and summarizing their performances in 2016 and trying to justify why each athlete merits their position.
Two African athletes had record breaking feats, setting World Records (WR) on the biggest stage of all, the Olympics, giving us all a reason to be cheerful and grateful at having them come from this continent.
It doesn’t matter your country or affiliation; when an African athlete is lighting up the track or dominating in field events, you can’t help but applaud. Yes, no sour grapes whatsoever.
Some who made our Top 10 list last year also retained their spots or either moved up the ladder, while there are new entrants who had an outstanding season worth celebrating.
Without giving much away let’s get into the ranking and see who made what position. Hopefully, you will agree with us.
10) Luvo Manyonga
At No.10 is South African Long Jumper Luvo Manyonga. I am sure even he would have doubted how well his year had panned out, going by the fine finish he had to the season.
Going to the Olympics, Manyonga wasn’t the most favored South African jumper to get to the podium in Rio. Rather, it was Rushwahl Samaai who defeated him to win the 2016 African Championship title on home soil, that stood a better chance, at least on paper. In that epic clash in Durban, while Samaai clinched GOLD with a distance of 8.40m (+2.9), Manyonga won Silver with a mark of 8.23m.
However in Rio, Manyonga stepped things up and for over ten minutes, it looked like he had won the GOLD medal. He leapt a distance of 8.37m, which gave him the lead having done his sixth jump, but that hope was dashed as he had to settle for Silver when America’s Jeff Henderson who came immediately after him, jumped 8.38m to pip the GOLD from him.
The margin was so close that Henderson who also had his last jump, was just contending to finish on the podium, only to come up with a mark that was one tenth of a centimeter better than Manyonga’s jump.
With his Silver medal, he follows in the footstep of South African record holder, Khotso Mokoena to win a medal in the men’s Long Jump event, with the latter having won a Silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
After competing at the Olympics, Manyonga showed that what he did was not a fluke, going on to win at the Brussels Diamond League in September, where he leapt a new Personal Best of 8.48m (+0.1).
With that mark, Manyonga is ranked the 2nd best jumper in the world this year, only behind USA’s Jarrion Lawson who has a better mark of 8.58m.