Internationally acclaimed longjump athlete Luvo Manyonga was crowned The Herald SPAR Eastern Cape Homegrown Hero for 2018 at a gala dinner held at the Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday evening.
Manyonga beat off a strong challenge from 11 other Eastern Province winners to become the 11th winner of the prestigious title.
Manyonga enjoyed a stellar 2018, during which he was ranked the No 1 long-jumper in the world in June.
That same month, he posted a world-leading jump for the season of 8.58m in Rome, the second time he had leapt that distance.
Earlier in the season, Manyonga won Commonwealth gold in Australia and followed that up with the World Cup long-jump title in London.
“It’s always an incredible honour just to be nominated, so to win, especially against such worthy contenders, is very special,” he said.
The 28-year-old star said he had enjoyed some time off during the festive break.
“After the long season last year, it was wonderful to have a break and relax and recharge.
“I spent most of my time with family in Cape Town having fun and enjoying not needing to train for a few weeks.”
But he is now back at it and targeting unbroken ground.
“I am very focused on training and preparing for the season ahead,” he said. “The long jump has some great competitors so I just want to focus on jumping and competing my best and getting closer to that 9m mark.”
Another athlete honoured at the function, where former national competitive swimmer and environmental activist Sarah Ferguson was keynote speaker,