As Qatar’s High-Jump icon is getting ready to defend another world title for the third time, Mutaz Barshim returned to Oregon this summer with one goal in mind, to determine that he is the best out there. We sat down with Mutaz at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in California prior to the qualifying round to talk more about his journey and his preparations.
“Last summer’s win meant a lot to me because I had won everything. Silver in 2012, silver in 2016 but no gold. So that was what I was missing. I didn’t want to retire and feel like ah there’s that one thing.”, says Mutaz Barshim.
Mutaz Barshim has become an icon after the big games, being recognized wherever he goes. Over the years, the track & field star evolved, feeling the pressure build up with every achievement. Being in the spotlight has pushed Barshim to grow beyond his comfort zone and to develop his identity as a champion.
“It changed everything around me. I’m still the same person. But of course, it becomes much more difficult to do what I want to do. There’s a lot of attention, a lot of media, and people look at you as a role model. I think that’s part of being a professional athlete. The better you get, the more pressure is applied to you. It’s the kind of pressure that makes you perform better and takes you to the next level. Now it’s time to think differently. I have gold in every major championship, so what’s next?”, says Mutaz Barshim.
Behind the scenes, Mutaz Barshim is a loving father and a family man. To him, family is an empowering force that has influenced him to become the best version of himself whether it’s on the track, at the gym or at home.
“As a father, my life has changed a lot. I’ve been a professional athlete for a long time. And I know that it takes so much time, effort and dedication. And now that I have my son, I don’t want to miss out on much because they grow up so fast. I want to be there for him to guide him and give him as much life as possible.”, says Mutaz Barshim.
“I want to be the best version of myself because of my family. Without my family, I wouldn’t be where I am, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I think this made me a better person, giving me so much power and motivation. I feel like I want to come out here and do the best I can and get back to my family. It makes me better.”, says Mutaz Barshim.
Qatar’s track & field superstar returned to Oregon as a two-time defending champion. He reflects on the journey back from the injury in 2019. A journey that pushed him beyond his limits but has awarded him glory. Mutaz made history by becoming the only high jumper in history to win two gold medals consecutively. But Mutaz knows that there’s room for more.
“After the big games, I was training. But I didn’t set any targets for any competitions. I remember in 2019 after coming back from the injury to the home championship in Doha and I was the defending champion from two-years earlier. Someone sent me an article that said that there’s never been any high jumper in history that won that competition twice in a row and that just got stuck in my head.”, says Mutaz Barshim.
“Imagine being the first and only one in history to do that. Now that I’ve done that, it’s a highlight. That was winning it for the second time, and now maybe it’s time to make history again and be the only one that wins three-times in a row. I just want to go there and fight. I want to go out there to perform, and do what I do best!”, says Mutaz Barshim.
Mutaz Barshim has conquered high-jump in the past two editions of the competition, coming out on top in 2017 and 2019. But Qatar’s track & field star is looking to put more numbers on the board as he’s determined to achieve another career milestone with a hattrick of gold medals.
“This is important to me because it’s the World Championships. It comes with status and It determines who’s the best out there. It doesn’t matter how you’ve been jumping the whole season. But now it matters.”, says Mutaz Barshim.
Mutaz has been training and enjoying the good weather of Los Angeles over the past few weeks. He believes in his process and his methods just like always. But now with his family being by his side, he senses a boost of confidence.
“I was in Los Angeles for almost three weeks with my family as I prepare. There’s good weather, and I’m having a good time, good training. Part pf my training was at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center, shaking up some things as it’s my last preparation before I head out to Eugene.”, says Mutaz Barshim.
Mutaz Barshim has his eyes set on the prize as he prepares to make history again in Oregon. Following the qualifying rounds that took place on Friday, July 15th and moving on to the final round to take place on Monday, July 18th, how high will the champion jump to defend his title for the third time?
Source and cover image credit: Red Bull
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