Samaai alone in the sandpit with Luvo out

Ruswahl Samaai of South Africa
Ruswahl Samaai of South Africa
Image: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF

SA long jump stars Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai have pushed each other to achieve podium places over the years.

Their rivalry on the sand-pit has benefited the country, but it will be a different story this year as Samaai has to do it without his friend and compatriot at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in July, due to a suspension.

Samaai (29) won the SA long jump title for the third time in his career at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships at the University of Pretoria's Tuks Bestmed Athletics Stadium two weeks ago without the absent Manyonga.

The Athletics Integrity Unit suspended Manyonga for a doping failure in January.

“I am a guaranteed medal prospect and a lot of people believe in my ability, that I can achieve something great and it gives me motivation. I know that I have to contribute to the medal tally to Team SA and that puts a lot of pressure on me, but I can handle it,” Samaai told Sowetan.

“The absence of Luvo puts more pressure on me, but I feed off people that believe in me and the weight of expectations on my shoulders as I am the senior long jumper in the country at the moment with Luvo out.

"Not having Luvo with me, knowing that would guarantee us two medals every single time, has shifted the pressure on my shoulder, but I will carry it and I am not afraid to carry it,” said a hopeful Samaai.

Over the years, Samaai has had to feed off Luvo and his missing link has affected his preparations.

“I had to change a lot of things to believe in myself even more. There is no one to motivate and push me. I have to do it by myself without him. It’s hard, but I can do this by myself,” explained Samaai.

He will compete at the African championships where he hopes to win his third title in a row in Algiers, Algeria from 1-5 June.


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