EVENT: LONG JUMP
Place of birth: Paarl
DOB: 25 September 1991
Coach: Jenny Kingwill
Long Jump: 8.49 m
Long Jump: 8.18 m (Indoors)
Long Jump: BRONZE, COMMONWEALTH GAMES, GLASGOW, 2014
Long Jump: BRONZE, AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS, MARRAKECH, 2014
Long Jump: GOLD, AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS, DURBAN, 2016
Long Jump: BRONZE, IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, LONDON, 2017
Long Jump: BRONZE, COMMONWEALTH GAMES, GOLD COAST, 2018
Long Jump: 7.84 m, African Championships, Marrakech, 2014
Long Jump: 8.08 m, Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, 2014
Long Jump: 7.97 m, Olympic Games, Rio, 2016
Long Jump: 8.18 m, World Indoor Championships, Portland, 2016
Long Jump: 8.40 m, African Championships, Durban, 2016
Long Jump: 8.32 m, World Championships, London, 2017
Long Jump: 8.22 m, Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, 2018
“Sport is a major part of how I conduct my day, time and even my life. Sport has been the reason for my escape from being on the streets to drugs and gangsterism. It helped me become the person I am today. It changed my life in so many ways. Ways I never thought it could happen.”
Overcoming major challenges he faced in his youth, often having to walk 10km to the track and back in order to train, Ruswahl Samaai has lifted himself to elite status by becoming one of South Africa's most accomplished track and field athletes.
After making steady progress in the early stages of his senior career, Samaai enjoyed a superb breakthrough season in 2014, leaping over eight metres for the first time at the age of 22, and stepping on the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the African Championships in Marrakech.
“Sport is more than just winning, although it can feed your drive to win. It is a connection between people. It could bring the best and worst out of someone. It forms friendship, family and also rivalry.”
“Sport could be a seal of change. Bringing so many people together from different parts of the world to the difference in skin colour. It's a legacy that could go on and on for generations to come. The achievement of a person could go on for many years. Most important, sport gives me the freedom and its one of the important things in my life”
While juggling injury niggles which have plagued his career, the lanky Western Cape star took another step forward in 2016 when he equaled Khotso Mokoena's national indoor record of 8.18 m to finish fifth at the World Indoor Championships, and later that year he won the African title on home soil in Durban and reached the Olympic final in Rio.
Having shown tremendous potential, Samaai took his biggest leap in 2017 when he launched a massive personal best of 8.49m to take the silver medal at the SA Senior Championships, before grabbing the bronze medal at the World Championships in London.
He ended the season ranked second in the world, as the University of Johannesburg transport management student continued to play a key role in building on the rich history of South African long jumping.
“ I’m an opportunist. I take each and every day as an opportunity. The window for opportunity is small, that’s why I make use of every opportunity as if it were my last.”