Qatari Mutaz Barshim was only two years old when the Cuban Javier Sotomayor broke the world high jump record with an almost mythical leap of 2.45 meters. At that time Mutaz could barely walk, but his parents already knew that he loved sport. Now, 22 years later there is one big question which shadows the 23-year-old. When will he break Sotomayor’s record? Mutaz is an exceptional talent that you rarely find in sport. He brought high jump back to the international spotlight after jumping a sensational 2.43m in Brussels in 2014. He has one other main goal in 2015, gold at the World Championships in Beijing in August.
Whoever wants to know the status of Mutaz in athletics - just go to a competition. Young fans are often waiting for hours to see their man, to grab a photo with him. Fans who did not go to events before he showed up. The Qatari has brought international focus on the high jump and is far away from living his superstar status. Mutaz only wants to be successful in what he is doing and to give something back to the sport.
His rivalry with the Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko has captured the imagination of high jump fans the world over and it is at Beijing where Mutaz hopes to clinch the biggest international victory of his career.
Mutaz is well-prepared. Up to four hours per day he trains with his Polish coach Stanislaw "Stanley" Szczyrba during the winter months.
"I feel good, my body feels good," said Mutaz, dubbed the Qatari Falcon in his home country. He is confident that he will break his personal best.
It was his father, a Gulf state champion and Arab champion race walker who first brought him to a sports stadium. This inspired him. He started with race walking, boredom led him then to distance running and his talent as well as good co-ordination to the high jump when he was 15. Before he met Stanley, his personal best was 2.14 m in 2009. In his first competition this year he cleared 2.38 in Shanghai.
In addition to the new fans, Mutaz also brought Hip Hop to the mat. Before each jump his greatest inspiration is quite close to him: The US rapper Lil Wayne, whom he has in his ears and who gives him wings. There are six competitions between him and his season highlight. Six competitions, where all eyes will be on him, waiting to see whether or not he would break the world record ...
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