UJ long jump star Ruswahl Samaai says hard work and his faith got him to where he is today – the number two ranked athlete in his discipline in the world in 2014.
The 22-year old student made the second longest jump in the world this year, when he leapt 8.13m in Germiston on March 15, and the only man who has jumped further is 2008 Olympic Gold medallist Irving Saladino.
Samaai grew up living in a shack with his mother and says that having an upbringing in a home that wasn’t advantaged as some others has given him a hunger and a desire to suceed and to provide a better life for his family.
“God put a dream in my heart and through my sport I can accomplish it, worship His Name, pursue my dream and also give my family a better life.
“My circumstances encourage me so much, because I want to get my mother and family out of this struggle we’re in; that’s why I cannot give up!
Samaai says he never imagined that he would be so successful, but through sport anything is possible.
“To be honest, I never imagined myself being where I am today, but sport opens so many doors, it’s just unbelievable.
“I’m more than happy where I am, I’m blessed, because I remember when I was back at home in Paarl, I had to walk 8-10km to get to a track and train.
“Sometimes I didn’t want to go because it was so far, but [I’ve succeeded] through all of that and my hard work,
Having the second longest jump in the world for 2014 is just the start for Samaai and he says will keep striving for improvement.
“I most definitely want more, I’m hungry for more – that’s why I’m working hard everyday.I want to be on top of my game.
Samaai has advice for young people who have dreams of suceeding in any sport or aspect of life.
“Keep on pushing, don’t ever give up and always remember that God has a plan for your life.
“Don’t lose hope although sometimes it’s going to feel that things aren’t working out for you.
“I’ve been there, I know how it feels, I’m still there. But, keep on going!” Samaai added.