Anaso Jobodwana, Ruswahl Samaai take centre stage in Stellenbosch

2015-04-18 09:37

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The return to the domestic track of SA Olympian Anaso Jobodwana at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships yesterday overshadowed the feat of long jumper Ruswahl Samaai who leaped into the provisional team for the IAAF World Championships.

London 2012 Olympics semifinalist Jobodwana finished second in 21.48 behind Lebogang Moeng (21.16) in the 200m heats to qualify for today’s semifinals.

But the highlight on the opening day of the track and field meeting was 23-year-old Samaai’s 8.38m jump that was just 12cm short of equalling Khotso Mokoena’s national and African record of 8.50m.

“I haven’t felt his kind of atmosphere in five years,” said Jobodwana who last ran on these shores as a junior athlete in 2010, before he received a scholarship to study and run in the US.

“I tried not to exert too much energy in the heats.”

The American-based sprinter is among the accomplished athletes who will line up in the later stages of the competition.

The likes of defending 800m champion Caster Semenya and leading 100m sprinter Akani Simbine also advanced in their respective events.

Semenya also qualified for the 1?500m final.

Meanwhile, Samaai became the first athlete at the national meeting to reach the qualifying mark for the global championships in Beijing, China in August.

The entry standard for the men’s long jumps is 8.10m and Samaai said the aim was to jump an 8.20m distance.

Despite facing the challenge of the windy conditions at Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch, Samaai was fortunate to have a legal wind reading behind his magical leap.

“Words can’t describe how I feel at the moment. The goal was to have fun and 8.20m was the bar, I never expected this,” said the newly crowned long jump champion who competed in the colours of Central Gauteng Athletics.

“The goal has always been to qualify for the world champs, and the Olympics [in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil] next year. It’s not going to be easy at the world champs as it will need more hard work and dedication.”

With his achievement, Samaai, who hails from Paarl, dethroned long jump champion Zarck Visser as SA’s second best jumper of all-time behind Mokoena.

Also on day one, 41-year-old Chris Harmse captured his 20th consecutive national hammer throw title.

The Free State-based Harmse now ranks among a few athletes in the world who have won many individual domestic titles.

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