Cape Town – Having overcome multiple injury troubles, long jump star Ruswahl Samaai, said he was delighted with his season after returning home from a successful international campaign on Sunday.
“The past two years have been a roller coaster ride for me with ups and downs, but eventually God came through and he came through at the right time,” Samaai said.
“I’m just grateful to be on this journey and to everyone who has supported me. It was an amazing season and I’m grateful to be injury free.”
His 8.49m personal best which earned silver at the ASA Senior Championships in Potchefstroom in April, placed Samaai second in the world rankings behind Luvo Manyonga’s 8.65m national record.
He went on to earn the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships in London two weeks ago and took second place at this week’s IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich, with Manyonga winning both titles.
While he may be forgiven for growing frustrated with his esteemed countryman’s tremendous ability, Samaai said he used Manyonga’s performances as motivation in South Africa’s strongest Track and Field discipline.
“We always try to encourage one another to jump far and go big because we’re not only doing it for ourselves. We’re doing it for so many young athletes who are struggling and can see that we are a light for them in order to make something happen in their lives,” Samaai said.
“So it’s good that we’re one and two in the world, but this is only the beginning of something great for long jumping in South Africa.”
Athletics South Africa Acting Chief Executive Officer, Richard Stander, who led a welcoming party on the athlete’s arrival at OR Tambo International amid song and dance, was full of praise for Samaai, who played a key role in the SA team’s record six-medal haul at the global championships.
“You were part of the team that made history for South Africa,” Stander told Samaai. “We’re very fortunate that you were at the World Championships, winning a bronze medal and also did well at the Diamond League. You have made South Africa very proud.
“Thank you for being such a good athlete and for being so committed to the sport.”