Luvo Manyonga Bio: Career, Olympics & Suspension

It is not uncommon to see talented athletes ruining their life and career because of their scandalous behavior. One such example is Luvo Manyonga, the South African, Track and Field athlete. 

Luvo is one of the best long jumpers in the world right now, who has proven his abilities multiple times.

Everyone who knows Luvo praises him for his natural skills and amazing techniques. But his lifestyle and drug use have caused him more harm than good, eventually earning him multiple suspensions.

Born and raised in a poverty-stricken and dysfunctional family, Luvo found his solace in track and field.

Under the mentorship of his coach, he shined in junior championships and eventually in world-level competitions.

Luvo Manyonga
Luvo Manyonga is a South African long jump champion

But crystal meth quickly brought him in a downward spiral, missing his chance to perform in the 2012 and 2020 Olympics.

Not to forget, he is the silver medalist of the 2016 Rio games, where his competitor Jeff Henderson outjumped him by just 1 centimeter.

In this article, we will discuss the early life and career of Luvo Manyonga. If you want to know more about the rise and fall of this talented athlete, stay till the end!

Luvo Manyonga: Quick Facts

Full NameLuvuyo Manyonga
Common NameLuvo Manyonga
Nick NameLuvo 
Birthdate08 January 1991
Age31 years old
Zodiac SignCapricon
Mother’s NameJoyce Manyonga
Father’s NameJohn Manyonga
SiblingsTwo younger siblings
BirthplaceMbekweni, Paarl, South Africa
Home TownMbekweni, Paarl, South Africa
CitizenshipSouth Africa
ResidenceBluewater Bay, Port Elizabeth
SchoolIhlumelo Secondary, Desmond Tutu
CollegeN/A
EducationN/A
Height1.89 m/6’2″
Weight82 kg/181 lb
Eye ColourBlack
Hair ColourBlack
Shoe SizeN/A
Martial StatusN/A
PartnerN/A
Married No
ChildrenOne son
SportTrack and Field
EventLong Jump
Olympics WinsOne silver (2016 Rio Olympic)
World ChampionshipGold, 2017
AchievementsSportsman of the year South Africa
Highest rankWorld no. 1
Personal Best8.65 (also south African record)
CoachMario Smith(former), John McGrath
TeamTeam Nike, Team South Africa
StatusSuspended
HobbiesCard games, Music
Net Worth$1 million
Affiliated BrandsNike
Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, Instagram
WebsiteN/A
MerchNike Track and Field
Last-UpdateJuly, 2022

Luvo Manyonga: Early Life and Family

Luvo was born on 8 January 1991 to John and Joyce Manyonga. His father was a for-lift truck driver who was mostly absent throughout his childhood.

However, John did have some athletic talent; he played rugby as a left-wing for the Impala Platinum rugby teams.

On the other hand, Joyce was a domestic cleaner and single-handedly looked after her family. Luvo was brought up in Mbekweni township in Paarl city of the south-west of South Africa.

Luvo Manyonga with his parents and sister
Luvo with his parents and sister

The part of the town he grew up in is infamous for drugs and gang-related violence.

The family was poverty-stricken, and Joyce had a difficult time raising her three kids. 

Tall and lean since his childhood, he started running sprints while in his school. Then, one of the teachers, Monelisi Adonis, encouraged him to try jumping, where he showed natural talent.

Until the halfway of 2009, he mostly did triple jump and long jump. But he had to give up triple jump because he kept on sustaining hip injuries.

He also frequently participated in local track and field competitions.

A local coach, Mario Smith, recognized his ability very quickly and took him under his wings. Mario supported him extensively towards developing a professional career.

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Luvo Manyonga: Career Summary

Manyonga earned a bronze at the 2009 African junior athletics championships, which was his first international success.

He won gold at the 2010 world junior championships jumping a staggering 8.19m. It is still the top ten all-time by an under 20 athlete.

First Ban

Luvo tried a local variant of crystal meth, known as tik, in 2011 and quickly got addicted to it. Then, in the 2012 national series meet, he tested positive for doping, using tik for non-performance enhancement reasons.

In the following months, he was admitted for drug rehabilitation. Although coach smith advocated for him, he subsequently received an 18-month ban.

The rising star then missed out on his chance to represent his country at the 2012 London Olympics.

He returned on track, intending to be present at the 2014 commonwealth games. For that reason, he started training with John McGrath, an Irish strength training coach.

But due to mishandling of papers, he again missed the commonwealth games. Many believed that this was done intentionally by the national athletics body as Luvo was seen as a PR liability.

The series of unfortunate events continued, as coach smith died in a car accident while on his way to visit Luvo. 

On his way to the memorial, Luvo came across some friends taking tik and missed the ceremony.

Gideon Sam, then president of the national Olympic committee, visited him and realized his poor living conditions. He then arranged for Luvo to train and accommodate at the University of Pretoria’s high-performance center.

Subsequently, Luvo got back to training full-time in 2015.

Rio 2016 and further

Manyonga jumped a personal best of 8.37m on the Rio long jump finals. However, Jeff Henderson surpassed it by 1 centimeter, taking home gold to the USA. 

Still, an Olympic silver was a great deal for Luvo, considering how far he has come from his place of darkness.

Luvo Manyonga with his olympic silver
Luvo with his Olympic silver

He kept the spirit alive in the following year, winning gold at the 2017 world championships in London at his personal best 8.48 meters.

Furthermore, he won another gold at the 2018 commonwealth games, jumping 8.41 meters in the final.

Second ban

In 2021 June, Athletics Integrity Unit tweeted about four years ban that Luvo Manyonga had received.

Athletes have to strictly follow the anti-doping rules of world athletics to stay playing. In addition, they must let authorities know their whereabouts so that anti-doping officials can find them.

AIU's tweet about Luvo's ban
AIU’s tweet about Luvo’s ban

Manga missed the first test in November 2019 and was imprecise on location details for two other tests in 2020. 

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Aftermath

Luvo immediately apologized to all of his well-wishers via Twitter and mentioned that he was a work in progress. He also said it was a dark time in his life, and he was trying to stay positive.

Later, Luvo spoke about the ban and how his mother’s death last year had contributed to his downfall.

As for what will be Luvo’s next move, no one can really tell. We can only wish he mends his ways and comes back stronger than ever.

He has shared that he dreams of opening a youth sports center someday. It will be an effort to help young people in his town fight the bad influences of drugs and violence.

Luvo Manyonga: Relationships

Luvo Manyonga was in a relationship with LLB student Khomotso Mamburu who is also a netball player. The couple frequently showed their fondness via social media.

However, the status of their relationship now is unclear.

Also, Luvo is the father to 9 years old son Lindokhule Manyonga. He dedicates each of his leaps to his son and hopes to keep him away from the traps he fell into. 

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Luvo Manyonga: Social Media

In the digital era, everyone likes to stay connected to the world via social media. Luvo is also active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But sadly, his profiles have barely been updated following his ban in 2020. 

Facebook: 9.4k followers

Twitter: 7,500 followers

Instagram: 24.2k followers

Luvo Manyonga: Net Worth

Luvo has a net worth of around $1 million.

Because of his inconsistent career, he has not enjoyed a lot of sponsorship deals. Nike earlier sponsored him, but the status of the sponsorship following his ban is unknown.

Luvo was raised in a family that continuously struggled with money. Although Luvo managed to do well in sports and made some money, he lost most of it on drugs. 

In 2011, he had received 80,000 Rand for his performances. After that, however, his family came to rely on him financially, and Luvo quickly lost all the money, even earning some debt in the process.

The condition was so terrible that coach Mario Smith had to support his family off his own expenses so that the athlete could focus solely on training.

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Luvo Manyonga: FAQs

Will Luvo Manyonga play Tokyo Olympics?

Following the four years ban from the athletic committee, Luvo Manyonga has missed his shot at Tokyo Olympics and a chance to win Olympic gold.

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