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Luvo and Ryk inspire UFS student leaders
2017-10-13

 Description: Luvo  and Ryk  Tags: Luvo Manyonga, Ryk Neethling, IAAF World Championships, World Champion, Khomotso Mamburu 

 Ryk Neethling and Luvo Manyonga have a special bond.
 The sporting duo shared their inspiring stories with student
 Leaders of the University of the Free State.
 Photo: Kaleidoscope Studios


Dreams can come true and Luvo Manyonga’s story is the perfect example. It would make the ideal movie script. This is opinion of the businessman and former international swimmer Ryk Neethling.
 
The Olympic gold medallist and former World Champion and Manyonga shared their stories with new student leaders of the University of the Free State (UFS).

“I am so proud of this guy,” Neethling said. “And we are just half-way through this movie. The best is yet to come.” The 26-year-old Manyonga is the current Olympic silver medallist and World Champion in long jump. But he had to overcome huge obstacles as a former tik or crystal meth addict.

Not an easy road
The duo were guests for a session, Inspirational Stories of Lived Humanising Experiences, which was part of the university’s Student Leadership Training weekend for Student Representative Councils, Residence committees, Residence Assistants and Association Representatives in the Economic and Management Sciences Auditorium on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Manyonga, who is dating the Kovsie netball player Khomotso Mamburu, talked about growing up in Mbekweni township in Paarl, about his career and his setbacks.

After finishing fifth at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011 he started partying when he returned home. “I hooked up with the wrong friends and they introduced me to tik,” he said. “They told me: ‘Hey dude, you are drunk. Just take a hit and it will sober you up.’ I took it and it was nice, but that is where it started.”

Be surrounded by positive people  
Manyonga lost all his money and his sport was also suffering because of his addiction. “At the beginning of 2014 I started to realise that I was throwing my life away and I needed help. I went to reach out to people close to me and told them I had a problem.” He thanked Neethling, who helped him when he was at his lowest, his mother, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, Tuks Sport and the High Performance Centre where he trains for the influence on his life.

Neethling’s advice to student leaders was to dream big, work hard, expand your network and find a mentor you can learn from.

“Always surround yourself with positive people,” he said. “You can succeed if you stay positive.”

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