Cape Town - An
untimely hamstring injury saw South African and African long jump champion
Ruswahl Samaai fall short of the podium at the recent Rio Olympics.
24-year-old University of Johannesburg student, who boasts a personal best of
8.38m and fully expected to be in the hunt for a medal, was short-changed when
he ripped his hamstring two days before the competition.
who arrived in Rio in confident mood after winning the Diamond League event in
Rabat, said he was busy with speed work when he suffered the 2.5cm tear that
would ultimately lead to his demise.
though he was able to finish the workout, he said it soon became apparent that
he would be short of his best in a competitive situation.
was nothing I could do, so I decided to focus and try and make it to the final.
It was tough as I could not fully stretch the injured leg," Samaai said.
the South African qualified for the final in fifth place with a leap of 8.03m.
from the injury affected his jumping, Samaai said he also had to alter the
length of his approach several times to compensate for the lack of strength in
former Paarl Gimnasium pupil ultimately placed ninth behind American Jeff
Henderson, who rubbed salt in his wounds by winning gold with the same distance
as his personal best.
said he had mixed feelings after the Games.
the one hand I’m frustrated, because I clearly had the potential to podium. On
the other, jumping beyond eight metres on an injured hamstring motivates me," Samaai said.
wasted no time in getting a leg up for next season and started his
rehabilitation with the university’s team of physiotherapists as soon as he
touched down in South Africa.
transportation management student, who is coached by Jenny Kingwill, said he
would be focusing on his fitness and strength during the off-season with UJ’s
his bad luck in Rio, Samaai said he had every reason to be optimistic.
know for a fact that if I put in the work now, I’m going to accomplish all my
goals in the future," he said.
the first of these is next year’s World Championships in London.