Rising star Asande Mthembu hopes to revive long jump event

Rising star Asande Mthembu hopes to revive long jump event

Emerging South African long jump talent Asande Mthembu is determined to rejuvenate the long jump discipline and restore the event to its former glory.

At one stage, the likes of Khotso Mokoena, Luvo Manyonga, and Rushwahl Samaai dominated the long and triple jump events and consistently brought home medals for Athletics South Africa (ASA).

Now, Mthembu is poised to carry this tradition on as he represents his nation at the 13th African Games in Accra, Ghana, where he aims to secure a gold medal, but he acknowledges the challenging road ahead to excel in the discipline.

"I think what's been the major difference between back when Luvo was winning silver medals at the Olympics and now, it's that field event athletes don't have their coaches with them," noted Mthembu.

"So, I mean it's difficult to go through everything because field events are normally very technical disciplines, regardless of whether you're throwing or jumping – it's very technical.

"So I think athletes will probably not perform as well as they possibly can, if they don't have their coaches with them, so I think that's one of the ways we can improve our field events as a whole.

"Personally, my plan so far has been learning how to coach myself – I think the last three or four weeks, my coach and I have been working on my self-awareness and judgement so that I can feel what I'm doing well for me to be able to coach myself."

Mthembu further confirmed to SABC Sport that he will be competing upcoming Senior Track and Field Championships in Kwa-Zulu Natal next month, with hopes of clinching qualifying for the Paris Olympics in July.

"I will be taking part at the national championships in KZN, which will be in front of my mother, so I'm hoping to have a very good day there – the last time I competed in front of her, I managed to get a personal best, so I think there'll be some fireworks there," he added.

"With Olympics, to be honest, I can't really focus on something that isn't set in stone – I haven't yet qualified, so I can't really plan for it.

"If I do well enough at nationals, we can go to African championships in June, so that is my current plan and that's what I'm putting most of my attention on. If I do happen to qualify for Paris during the year, we'll have to take it from there."

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