Long jump World champion Luvo Manyonga headline act at Cork event
Mark English lines up in 800m event in bid to qualify for World Athletics Championships
Luvo Manyonga will use Cork City Sports as preparation for the World Athletics Championships in Doha. Photograph: Getty Images
Mark English will look to take one of his last chances to qualify for next month’s World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, when he lines up in a properly competitive 800m at the 68th Cork City Sports which takes place at the CIT track this evening.
English, who won European Indoor bronze in Glasgow back in March, has a best of 1:46.96 this season, the standard for Doha set at 1:45.80, although he may still qualify via the ranking route. Also in the field is the top British runner Jake Wightman, who has run 1:45.08 this summer, and the American Isaiah Harris, who has a best of 1:44.42.
Of special interest in the field events will be Luvo Manyonga, the reigning long jump World champion from London 2017, who has a lifetime best of 8.65m, and this season has jumped 8.37m. Manyonga will also be using the Cork event as part of his preparations for Doha, having won gold in London after one of the most remarkable comebacks in modern sport.
Seven years ago, Manyonga reckoned he was about “5 per cent away” from death, such was his addiction to crystal meth and the downward spiralling of his once-promising athletic career. He was World Junior long jump champion in 2010, finished a brilliant fifth at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, still only 20, but once back he promptly blew all his winnings on his own drug use and that of those around him.
In 2012, instead of contesting the London Olympics, he was serving an 18-month ban after testing positive for crystal methamphetamine, one of several recreational drugs also on the banned list even though they are anything but performance-enhancing.
Only as unimaginable as it still seems, Manyonga was standing on the Olympic medal podium just two years later, winning the silver medal in Rio in 2016 and only denied gold after the American Jeff Henderson out-leaped him by 1cm with his last jump, 8.38m to Manyonga’s 8.37m.
Earlier in 2017, Manyonga came out and improved his best to 8.65m – and is now closing in fast on Mike Powell’s world record of 8.95m, set back in 1991, the year he was born. In London two years ago, Manyonga’s second-round best, 8.48m, proved enough to hand him his first senior gold medal – seven years after winning junior gold.