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South African Long Jumper Luvo Manyonga Overcame Demons to Win Silver at Rio Olympics

Long jumper Luvo Manyonga leapt his way to South Africa’s sixth medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics. His journey to Rio is the ultimate comeback story.

25-year-old long jumper Luvo Manyonga leapt his way to South Africa’s sixth medal of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games Saturday in Rio. Manyonga placed second in the men’s long jump with a personal best of 8.37m. He was in the lead until American Jeff Henderson eclipsed him on his sixth and final attempt with 8.38. In third place was Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford with a distance of 8.29m, followed by America’s Jarrison Lawson in fourth with 8.25m.


The long jump is an event Americans have historically dominated, with Carl Lewis leading the way with four golds in a row from 1984-1996. Henderson’s win marks the 22nd men’s long jump gold for the U.S. (their first since 2004).

Manyonga’s showing continues to put South Africa on the world long jump map. Godfrey Khotso Mokoena, who competes in the men’s triple jump on Monday, earned the country their first long jump medal in Olympic history when he placed second in the event at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Manyonga’s silver-place finish marks Team SA's second Olympic long jump medal.

Of course, Manyonga is no newcomer to the world of long jump. His career started off on an exceptional note. The Mbekweni-raised athlete found success early on, placing third at the African Junior Championships in 2009 before taking home gold at the 2010 IAAF Junior World Championships and another gold at the 2012 All-Africa Games in Maputo.

But then things took a turn for the worse. Success and money came with a cost for Manyonga. He began using tik (the South African street name for crystal methamphetamine). In 2012, he tested positive for the drug and was banned from the sport for 18 months.

His issues with the drug continued into 2014. Tragedy struck when Manyonga’s longtime coach and mentor, Mario Smith, was killed in a car accident while on the way to Manyonga’s house. The athlete’s life continued to spiral out of control.

It was during that same year that he began his journey to Rio. In 2016, he returned to competition after a four-year hiatus. (Check out this story on Daily Maverick for a more in-depth discussion of Manyonga's comeback)

"The demons have been trying to pull me down but look at my face ... look at me standing here," Manyonga told SASCOC after the event on Saturday. He also thanked his mom and his five-year-old son, Lindokhule. “It’s too early in the morning SA time to phone them but they’ll be hearing from me very soon,” he said.

Manyonga’s coach had quite the whirlwind day as well. After his Uber car broke down en route to the Olympic Stadium, Neil Cornelius was forced to catch another taxi in a bad part of town and then sprint 2km to catch Manyonga in time for the long jump final. He made it. And after the event, he told Sport24 that there's no limit to what Manyonga can achieve. “I honestly don't want to put a distance on it. If I put a distance on him I'm limiting him. At the moment his potential is limitless," he said.

Could a world record be next? He’ll need to outjump American Mike Powell’s 8.95m, a distance he set in 1991. Until that day comes, Manyonga's given South Africa plenty reason to be proud.

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Photo courtesy of Mariama Diallo

Interview: Sincerely Ria Is Giving Guinean Fashion It's Flowers

And designer Mariama Diallo's NYFW debut celebrates the vibrancy and uniqueness of Guinea and its Fulani culture.

Guinea-born supermodel, actress, and activist Mariama Diallo is a face you've likely seen all over social media.

With modelling campaigns with the likes of Savage x Fenty by Rihanna, Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty, and features in Vogue, Marie Claire, NYLON magazines, the model is commanding her space in the industry and making her way centerstage. And, Mariama's strong online presence and following has certainly made her a popular member of the global village too.

With the aforementioned achievements under her belt, the 28-year-old supermodel presented herself as an eager and excited talent within the fashion industry. Now, Mariama's talents and ambitions have attracted her to a role behind the scenes. And showing the power of intention, the role has already taken her to places she only dreamed of prior.

Debuting as the fashion designer of self-financed fashion line Sincerely Ria at this year's New York Fashion Week is but a peek into what the model has to show of herself and share with the world.

The new collection, The Oshun, celebrates not only female beauty and the many ways that it manifests itself but also the magic of womanhood. Named after Oshun, the African goddess of femininity, fertility, beauty, and love, the collection is wrapped within the warmth and divinity of its namesake. The brand follows an ethos of inclusivity, community, and the power behind being beautiful because you have decided to be. Challenging the notion that beauty is always to be accompanied by pain, Mariama and Sincerely Ria are celebrating the rejection of beauty and body standards and expectations.

The Oshun line is a nod to the opulence of Mariama's African heritage and Guinea's Fulani culture, with special attention to the use of brilliant colors, exciting designs, and stunning silhouettes. Motivated to be seen and to captivate, the emphasis on Black beauty within the clothing is certainly translated beautifully, however, stylistically available to all. Uniqueness is welcomed and encouraged. And like Mariama says herself, "You deserve to celebrate yourself unapologetically."

The line debuted at New York Fashion Week, very appropriately, on Valentine's Day of this year and love certainly was the theme. Already boasting a following of over 8,000, the brand's instagram account has shown nothing short of praise and excitement for what we've seen from Mariama, and for what's to come.

We spoke with the Guinean supermodel about the journey to Fashion Week and her love for and emphasis on community and shared experiences.

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