Long jumper Ruswahl Samaai’s has gone from Paarl in the Western Cape to London, where he achieved his career-best with bronze medal at the recent IAAF World Championships.
The University of Johannesburg student, who has a list of accolades almost as long as his personal best, recorded a distance of 8.32m at the event in early August.
His career, he said, had taken him places he never thought he would see – from busy New York in the United States to quiet Gemona in Italy.
The latter has a special place in his heart as he said the small town, surrounded by mountains and valleys, reminded him of home.
Samaai leapt onto the scene 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,” said the 25-year-old.
After London, Samaai made his way to Switzerland for the IAAF Diamond League meeting two weeks later, where he placed second.
The road to success has been a long, trying journey said the Johannesburg resident, who has had to contend with niggling knee problems since an operation in 2010.
“I knew the only thing that would keep me away from a medal would be injury,” said the former triple jumper, who finally enjoyed an injury-free year after switching to long jump seven seasons ago.
“I started my athletics career as a triple jumper, but, due to a knee operation in 2010, I had to make a switch.”
Samaais said long jump and triple jump had the same basic principles so he decided to try his hand at the former the following year.
“This medal makes everything meaningful because it represents the struggle that I’ve been through. It represents all my hard work and dedication.”