CAPE TOWN – World championship bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai made an excellent start to his international season with a dramatic victory at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Sunday.
South African long jump star Samaai made his first appearance on the professional scene – at the Bauhaus Galan event in the Swedish capital – since the enforced Covid-19 break began earlier this year.
The 28-year-old from Paarl was due to compete in a meeting in Trieste two weeks ago, but pulled out just before the beginning.
He has been putting in the hard yards at his training base in Gemona, Italy over the last month – alongside 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk and SA 110m hurdles champion Antonia Alkana.
And on Sunday in mild conditions, Samaai showed his class from the first round, leaping to a distance of 8.07m, which immediately put him into the lead.
I won the competition based on a format that’s not fair towards the guy with the furthers distance. Our event is simple. Whoever jumps the furthest during the competition wins the competition but not this time around. 8,13m gets you second place and 8,09m wins the competition 👀 https://t.co/5OQ7UxWePz— Ruswahl Samaai , OLY (@RuswahlSamaai) August 23, 2020
He was unable to surpass the eight-metre point over the next four rounds, with marks of 7.80m, 7.79m, 7.67m and a no-jump.
Swedish athlete Thobias Montler pulled off the biggest leap of the day with an 8.13m effort in the second round.
Montler produced another 8.13m jump in the third round, and 8.01m in the fourth.
Kristian Pulli of Finland also eclipsed the eight-metre barrier with 8.02m.
But the new competition format, where the top three jumpers after five rounds face off in a ‘mini-final’, effectively gave Samaai and Pulli another opportunity to claim top honours, despite Montler’s second-round 8.13m.
And Samaai did just that with a strong 8.09m leap, compared to Montler’s 8.06m and Pulli’s no-jump.
“I’m happy with my four times over 8m, but I’m not so happy with the competition system!” Montler told the Diamond League website afterwards.
Samaai expressed his unhappiness with the format last week, responding to the Diamond League’s Twitter post about the rules with: “Here we go again”, along with a number of emojis displaying his reservations.
But this time, he was able to make it count.