Tokyo Olympics

Devastated Samaai contemplates retirement after Tokyo exit sorrow: 'That wasn't me'

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South African long jumper Ruswahl Samaai
South African long jumper Ruswahl Samaai
Anton Geyser/SASPA/SASI

While the Olympic Games bring joy to many, they can be equally devastating to athletes who fail to make the podium or live up to their best expectations.

For South African long jumper Ruswahl Samaai, it was a combination of both after he was eliminated from the Tokyo Olympics during the qualification stage on Saturday.

Samaai was in genuine contention to medal at this year's Games and was hoping to follow in Luvo Manyonga's footsteps after the now-banned star took silver at the 2016 Rio Games.

Despite being all smiles at the start, Samaai could only manage 7.70 and a best leap of 7.74, which saw him finish 11th in his group and fail to progress to the final.

A devastated Samaai walked through the press zone looking forlorn and, despite his bitter end, managed to speak to the two South African journalists eager for his post-event comment.

"To be honest, I don't know. I feel like announcing my retirement from the sport. That wasn't me; I have no idea," said the 29-year-old long jumper from Paarl.

"I have so many mixed emotions at this point that I don't know."

Samaai understood that it's not an easy decision to make but hopes to push past his heartbreaking result.

"I can [retire] if I want to, but I know it's something I'm going to regret it at the end of the day," he said.

"Sometimes, when we have put God's plan in place, we're not sure what he has in store for us, but he takes you through the most difficult struggles to get you up to this point. I think it's one of these moments … we'll just have to wait."

*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympic Games for Sport24

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