Tshwane - World Championship long jump bronze medallist, Ruswahl Samaai, will open his 2018 season at the second Athletix Grand Prix meeting at Tuks Athletics Stadium on March 8.
Samaai earned the bronze medal in the closing round of the Long Jump final at the World Championships in London on August 5, 2017.
He had been lying in fourth place, until the fith round when his 8.27m jump moved him into joint thrid with Russian Aleksandr Menkov, who was competing under a neutral flag. Samaai would have won the bronze medal on countback, but in the sixth and final round of the competition he made sure of the bronze when he leapt to his fifth best jump of 2017 (8.32m).
His personal best of 8.49m, jumped in Potchefstroom at the ASA National Championships, saw Samaai finish second on the 2017 global ranking lists. The 26-year-old has shown an appetite for big competition and will be looking to make a mark in his opening competition at Tuks Athletics Stadium.
“2018 is a big year for me. My bronze in London has taken me to the next level after making the Olympic final in Rio and winning bronze at the 2014 Africa Championships and then gold there in 2016. So this year I am looking forward to representing my country at the African Championships to defend my title and hopefully at the World Cup and the Continental Cup. My journey will start at Tukkies. I’m really looking forward to this,” said Samaai.
He will be up against, amongst others former national champion and 8.40m plus jumper, Zarck Visser. The flamboyant Visser has a best of 8.41m behind his name which he jumped in Bad Langensalza (Germany) in 2015. Visser has struggled with injury of late, but was still able to jump 8.22m in Madrid in 2017.
Samaai’s big breakthrough came in 2014, when he went over 8m for the first time in his career and came home with the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games and a month later picked up the bronze at the African Championships in Marrakech. In 2016 he went two better and won the gold medal in Durban.
He won his first national title in 2015 with a then personal best of 8.38m. In 2016 he finished fifth at the World Indoor Championships and ninth at the Olympic Games, before claiming the World Championship bronze in London in 2017.