After the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, we sat down with South African Long Jumper, Ruswahl Samaai to reflect on his Bronze medal at the Champs. We also discuss why South Africa are producing so many quality athletes in the sand!
A talented sportsman growing up, the 26-year-old had options . . ."At first I was a Triple Jumper in high school. I ended up doing Long Jump in 2012. The training for long and triple jump is exactly the same so we made a switch. From then on, right up until today I’ve now just focused on my long jump, so back in the day, I was another Christian Taylor!"
Samaai is part of an elite group of South African long jumpers who are constantly pushing the boundaries of the event, he regularly competes with the likes of Luvo Manyonga, who won Gold at the World Championships, Khotso Mokoena and Zarck Visser, When asked about his recent bronze and the relationship between the rivals, he put it like this:
"I headed to London for the win, unfortunately that didn't happen. Whenever I see Luvo, Zarck or Khotso at a meet my mind starts getting into beast mode. So it’s awesome, we all strive to be better as long jumpers and we all have a hunger to be the best in our country. When I am home I am not competing against any guys, I am competing against the best in the world at every single meet. That builds character."
His competitiveness and drive to be the best is a stand-out attribute to his success, he did however point out another factor in his life that he believes will see him become Olympic champion:
"Faith plays a huge role in my life, let me take you back to the Olympics last year in Rio, I was one of the favourites to win an Olympic medal, I got injured two days before the competition and that completely threw me off. That was not my plan, I wanted to be the best that I could be and execute my plan, I was mentally frustrated and angry at God. It took me a while to trust him fully again, I asked why did you bring me so far and then fail me? It doesn’t make sense. At times I was so angry but after trusting him again everything starting changing and falling back into place."
"It came down to be believing in him and knowing that his plan for my life has already been mapped out, the only thing is to get me to fulfilment. After that, I fully committed myself to him and whatever happens this year I have faith on and off the track. It changed my life as a sportsperson and as a person. We have to believe that he has a plan for us and give everything into his hands. I see myself as an Olympic champion if it’s God’s will, I see myself as a world record holder, all of those things are possible."
Ruswahl ended with one piece of advice for aspiring long jumpers:
"All I can say to the young long jumpers out there is to have faith, don’t let the circumstances fool you, God has a plan for your life."