Radek Juska in the long jump at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
If there were any doubts over the fitness of Luvo Manyonga, they were quickly dispelled, as the South African qualified for Saturday’s long jump final at the first attempt.
The 26-year-old lightly strained his ankle in winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in June, meaning that, despite having exceeded 8.60m in four competitions in 2017, little was known about his current fitness.
Yet the Olympic silver medallist was the first athlete to jump beyond the 8.05m automatic qualification distance and appeared to show no ill-effects from his six-week absence from competition.
He didn’t, however, produce the farthest leap of the evening. Instead, it was Radek Juska of the Czech Republic who managed 8.24m, just five centimetres short of his personal best, who topped the standings. The 24-year-old 2015 European indoor silver medallist is enjoying the best season of his career and will look forward to the final with confidence, having achieved qualification at the second attempt following an 8.01m mark in the first round.
The qualification competition featured two pools of athletes competing simultaneously and those in pool A enjoyed a more productive evening than those in pool B.
In addition to Manyonga and Juska, four other athletes exceeded 8.05m, including Cuba’s 18-year-old Maykel Masso, who cleared 8.15m, and Sweden’s Michel Torneus, who jumped 8.07m, both of whom did so with minimum effort.
Shi Yuhao of China and 2016 Olympic fourth-place finisher Jarrion Lawson both left it until the final round, although had contrasting competitions until that point. Shi, with a season’s best of 8.31m, struggled for rhythm and fouled both his first two efforts before 8.06m secured qualification.
Lawson was agonisingly close with 8.02m in the first instance, but following a second-round foul hit 8.05m to match the automatic mark.
In pool B, 2013 world champion Aleksandr Menkov was the only jumper beyond 8.05m in the first round, with 8.07m, and it took Ruswahl Samaai until his final attempt to better that distance.
The South African, whose 8.49m jump places him second on the world list for the year, got better in every round, starting with 7.95m and then producing 8.04m before securing his place.
Only Wang Jianan, the bronze medallist from Beijing two years ago, joined Samaai and Menkov from pool B, meaning that there was no place in the final for the Olympic champion, Jeff Henderson. The US jumper struggled throughout and only managed 7.84m in the final round.
World indoor champion Marquis Dendy and China’s Huang Changzhou also surprisingly exited the competition, as did Eusebio Caceres, Zarck Visser and Miltiadis Tentoglou. All had strong season’s bests and would have expected to progress.
Dean Hardman for the IAAF