“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Life, they say, is what you make of it. Nothing proves this more aptly than the success of South African long jumper Luvo Manyonga, who, despite grappling with addiction, went on to win the world athletics title. Manyonga was struggling with addiction until last year when he returned to formal competition. He not only overcame his addiction but also claimed the long jump gold medal at the 2017 IAAF World Championship held in London, leading the final from the second round with a leap of 8.48 meters – the third best mark of 2017.
“This gold medal makes me feel over the moon. I have been praying to get this gold medal,” said Manyonga, who was a junior champion in 2010. He had to endure several personal setbacks in the years that followed and addiction was one of them.
Addiction almost crushed his fledgling career
In 2012, the athlete was suspended for 18 months for testing positive for a recreational drug, which was a local variant of crystal methamphetamine. He once admitted to having a close shave with death and felt about “five percent away” from death. However, redemption came with determination and desire to win back lost glory and is finally, paying dividends. Now, his days of addiction are a thing of the past.
The drug used by Manyonga was not a performance enhancing drug, but the dangerous and highly addictive “tik,” a local variant of crystal meth widely used in the townships around Mbekweni.
Flirting with crystal meth
Methamphetamine is an illegal drug, commonly used as a club drug. It belongs to the same class as cocaine and other powerful street drugs. The white crystalline substance is taken orally, snorted, smoked or injected with a needle. It creates a false sense of happiness and the user feels confident, bursting with high energy and hyperactive. Over time, people who use the drug develop a strong desire to reuse it and this is the onset of a dangerous addiction.
The craving for the drug was so powerful that Manyonga, instead of competing in the 2012 London Olympics, was serving a sentence of suspension for abusing the drug. Ironically, all these followed after his stupendous success in 2010. Manyonga had two options before him – either to bounce back and compete in sports or vanish in the dark alley of addiction. He was strong and decided to shun drugs and realign himself with the mainstream.
Dealing with addiction
The long jumper kicked his habit of drugs, practiced hard for the comeback and was able to pursue his dreams. He can be a great inspiration to millions of people who are struggling with an addiction and are staring at the face of annihilation. With timely treatment and a little commitment to remain in the treatment program, anybody can go sober and lead a healthy life.
If a loved one is abusing a drug, seek immediate help. Gather as much information about the substance of abuse and act accordingly to help him or her lead a healthy and productive life.
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