I am going for distance, as well as the title, says Ruswahl Samaai ahead of SA champs
CAPE TOWN - He hasn’t participated in serious competition this year, but Ruswahl Samaai is confident that he can put “pressure” on the young long jump upstarts at the South African athletics championships in Pretoria this week.
The 29-year-old from Paarl, who clinched bronze medals at the 2017 world championships and at two Commonwealth Games, has been working hard on his technique and speed in recent months – without participating in any events.
Instead, leading the way locally is 23-year-old Cheswill Johnson, who posted an Olympic qualifying distance of 8.26m in Pretoria in February, which also places him second on the 2021 world list behind Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle (8.27m) – although it is still early in the season.
Two other local athletes have also gone through the eight-metre barrier this year: Divan Manuel (8.02m) and Jovan van Vuuren (8.01m).
“There are three youngsters who are doing very well, and it’s a great boost for long jumping for the future, going forward.”
Samaai says he is fully fit, and opted not to take part in any competition, as “there wasn’t a reason to participate up to now”.
“Many of the competitions were scheduled on top of each other, and I wasn’t well prepared for that.
“I didn’t just want to jump in any competition, just to say I took part.”
But while he will still be the favourite when the long jump event starts tomorrow at the Tuks Stadium – with the final scheduled for Saturday – Samaai will have bigger fish to fry on the international circuit, where he will aim to get into peak form ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
“I am going for distance, as well as the title.
“I don’t want to talk about an exact distance, because I prefer my performance to do the talking.
“But definitely the title, and a good distance will be a bonus.
“I know what I have in mind and what I aim to achieve,” he said.
“After the national championships, I will take a few days’ break, and then I will be back to build up for the international season, with Tokyo the big one later in the year.
“That is where I hope to bring a medal back for my country.
“I am the King of Rabat (Diamond League meeting, scheduled for May 23)!
“So, I always try to compete in Rabat. It’s one of my favourite competitions.”