Ruswahl Samaai at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
World bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai successfully defended his African long jump title earlier this year and went on to win at the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018. The South African is in a bit of a love-hate relationship with his event, though…
I actually hate the technical part of jumping; it’s a lot for the body to take. But there are lots of things I enjoy about being a long jumper.
The long jump doesn’t get a lot of exposure, but with the bit of exposure that we do get, we try to inspire the next generation. For me, that’s one of the biggest driving forces. I try to be a role model for up-and-coming athletes.
I’m also motivated by my goals: wanting to be the No.1 in the world, wanting to stand on the Olympic podium as the gold medallist, wanting to stand on the World Championships podium as the gold medallist. That’s my drive.
What I also love about track and field is competing. I’m obsessed with competition; it brings out the best in me. Competing against the likes of Juan Miguel Echevarria, Luvo Manyonga, Jeff Henderson – whenever I see these guys, it brings out a beast from inside of me that just loves to compete against the best in the world.
And if one of those guys were to break the world record while I’m competing, I would be so happy. I love that aspect of competing against the best in the world. The training part I don’t love quite so much. But I know that I have to put in the work in order to be the best in the world. That’s just how it is.
If it wasn’t for a knee operation in 2010, I probably wouldn’t even be a long jumper. I used to be a triple jumper, but I had to switch events after my surgery. It took me a while to break the seven-metre barrier and then again to break the eight-metre barrier. I’ve always been building towards getting what I want within the event.
And that’s what I love about this sport; I’m always trying to be a better athlete and a better version of myself.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF