This is an encouraging story of ‘your circumstances and past do not determine your future’.

Ruswahl Samaai - From the ashes to the top of the mountain UJ long jump star says hard work and his faith got him to where he is today – amongst the top ranked athletes in his discipline in the world in 2014. The 22-year old student made the second longest jump in the world this year (earlier in the year… currently lying 8th overall), when he leapt 8.13m in Germiston on March 15, and the only man who  jumped further at that stage was 2008 Olympic Gold medalist Irving Saladino.

Samaai grew up living in a shack with his mother and says that having been brought up in a home that wasn’t advantaged as some others has given him a hunger and a desire to succeed and to provide a better life for his family. This seems to be the case with plenty South African athletes and serves as proof and motivation to all other athletes out there currently in the same situation he was in that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. You must want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you’ll be successful!

“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! 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”.

Being in the top 10 rankings in the world with the long jump this year is just the start for Samaai and he says that he will keep striving for improvement. Adding to this, Samaai was recently signed by Adidas International and was invited to a few meets in Europe! One of the meets he will also be competing in is the New York Diamond League on June 14. “I’m very excited, because it’s my first major meet. It’s something I just dreamt about  and now it’s here, so  I have to seize the opportunity that God gave me, because I’m not doing this for me, but for God” said this humble future star.

At the end, you have a choice, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, you can let it get you down and make you achieve nothing, OR… you can choose to fight for a better life no matter what and use it as a motivation and driving force behind any and everything you do!

“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. To the kids out there, 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.

EC Media Manager – Adriaan Aldridge in collaboration with Reginald Hufkie