While a handful of athletes will be hoping to spring a surprise in the men’s long jump, including the likes of American Jeff Henderson and South African contenders Ruswahl Samaai and Zarck Visser, the battle for the world title in Doha later this year is expected to be spearheaded by defending champion Luvo Manyonga and Cuban sensation Juan Miguel Echevarria.
With Manyonga and Echevarria set to clash for the first time this season at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Thursday night, we take a closer look at what they’ve achieved thus far in their careers, how well both athletes have progressed in the elite ranks, and how they match up against one another.
Season’s best (outdoor) – 8.35m
Personal best (outdoor) – 8.65m
Personal best (indoor) – 8.44m
1st – 2010 World Junior Championships, Moncton
1st – 2011 African Games, Maputo
2nd – 2016 African Championships, Durban
2nd – 2016 Olympic Games, Rio
1st – 2017 World Championships, London
2nd – 2018 World Indoor Championships, Birmingham
1st – 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast
2nd – 2018 African Championships, Asaba
Showing big match temperament early in his career, Manyonga won the world junior title in 2010, and the following season he earned gold at the African Games, outclassing his senior opponents at the age of 20.
And while he vanished from the sport for some time, battling
Showing such good form it was as if he had never been gone, Manyonga grabbed silver medals at the 2016 African Championships in Durban and the Rio Olympic Games.
He has since developed into an international star, earning gold at the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
After sailing beyond 8.40m for the last seasons years in a row, Manyonga landed at 8.35m to win the SA title in Germiston last month, and he will hope to secure a
Juan Miguel Echevarria
Season’s best (outdoor) – 8.92m (+3.3)
Season’s best (indoor) – 8.21m
Personal best (outdoor) – 8.68m
Personal best (indoor) – 8.46m
4th – 2015 World Youth Championships, Cali
5th – 2016 World Junior Championships, Bydgoszcz
1st – 2018 World Indoor Championships, Birmingham
Though he has become one of the most exciting prospects on the global track and field circuit, Echevarria got his elite career off to a relatively sedate start, narrowly missing out on major international medals at both youth and junior level.
He did display a glimpse of his immense potential, however, when he touched down at 8.05m in Havana in March 2015, at the age of 16, though there was no wind reading for his performance and it was not officially recognised.
Two years later, in his final season as a junior athlete, he made a statement with a leap of 8.28m in Madrid, falling just seven centimetres short of the world U-20 record.
And in 2018 he enjoyed a spectacular breakthrough, launching a personal best of 8.68m in Bad Langensalza and climbing to 10th place in the all-time senior world rankings, two places ahead of Manyonga.
Returning from an injury which sidelined him from the second half of the 2018 season, Echevarria produced an impressive 8.92m aided effort to win the Cuban national title in Havana in March, and though he again had the benefit of a tailwind (3.3m/s), he is clearly back in shape.