Ruswahl Samaai jumped onto the South African athletics scene in 2014. He was haunted by critics after an op left him with a funny knee but worked hard to succeed.
Ruswahl Samaai has faced a difficult road to his current success. In 2010 he had an operation that left him with a bad knee. Many doubted whether the athlete would be able to bounce back from the operation, but he proved his critics wrong.
He was born and bred in Paarl in the Western Cape but moved to Johannesburg to attend university. Samaai was a triple jumper but he moved away from it after the operation.
“I started my athletics career as a triple jumper, but, due to a knee operation in 2010, I had to make a switch. Long jump and triple jump have the same basic principles so I decided to do long jump the following year.”
Seven years ago he made the switch and experienced his first ever injury-free season. From dealing with injury to finding time to walk 6km to training after 12-hour work shifts, Samaai said the challenges he had to overcome became valuable lessons.
He started in 2014 with third places at the Commonwealth Games and African champs, before graduating to the African title last year.
“I became African champ and finished ninth in Rio too, but, out of all my achievements, London is the best to date,”
After London, Samaai made his way to Switzerland for the IAAF Diamond League meeting two weeks later, where he placed second.
“This medal makes everything meaningful because it represents the struggle that I’ve been through. It represents all my hard work and dedication.”
“I’ve learnt that patience and perseverance can become a challenge in our daily lives, but you have to keep moving forward.”
Samaai set his personal best of 8.49m in April at the ASA Senior Championships in Potchefstroom. He has also been fortunate enough that his athletics career has taken him all over the globe. His favourite place so far has been Gemona in Italy.
“It’s a small town surrounded by mountains and valleys. The place reminds me of home back in Paarl.”
This is only the beginning. We cannot wait to see this champ win gold!