The achievements that Qatar’s falcon and High Jump icon Mutaz Barhim has so far accomplished will resonate for a long time still, telling the story of a legend whose name will go down in letters of gold in the records of history of the mother of all sports: “Athletics”. The Qatari Red Bull athlete's historical victory that earned him his second gold medal and crowned him world champion at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha, has actually demonstrated his extraordinary ability to overcome difficulties and challenges, as he was just recovering from an injury when he marked his name in history of sports with an immortal gold medal.
Get to know how Barshim is preparing for the challenge to come after the COVID-19 pandemic took all the athletic disciplines in the world by storm. Yet, Barshim has a lot up his sleeve for the upcoming period. Let’s see what the High Jump icon has to say.
My plans for the period to come have started by a return to the usual routine and the daily training, in preparation for the championships that will pave the way to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. I will keep on the same track till then.
Does your exceptional achievement at the 2019 World Athletics Championship, as the first athlete in the history of the game to preserve the High Jump title, put some sort of pressure on your future undertakings, especially with regards to the Olympic year ahead?
I believe that feeling the pressure is something natural for every professional athlete such as myself. I even deem it essential for me to feel the pressure in all the competitions I take part of. Nonetheless, I have to adapt to it, and prevent it from taking a toll on me, so as to channel the pressure into positive results.
Not competing in any championship for a whole season is undoubtedly a negative thing, but I will try to make the most out of it by training and exercising.
You are one of the most determined athletes in the face of difficulties. This was demonstrated after your infamous injury, and your strong return to the scene, to claim the World High Jump Championship. How do you view the challenge now?
I personally strive to do my best in every tournament I take part in. I take each of the challenges very seriously and attempt to succeed. Seriousness is indeed an important factor in achieving success and winning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a toll on the world as a whole, and athletes are no exception to that. However, athletes have the duty to give back to society, by leaving a positive impact. Sometimes we just have to make the right decision, and comply with the rules, even if it goes against our interests as athletes. The public health of the community takes precedence in such cases. Of course, staying home will do athletes no good, but there is a positive side to it, as it sends the message that preserving public health and safety is given utmost importance at both individual and community levels.
So far, we’re still carrying on the routine training, which is the most important thing for us currently. We are still to set the schedule of the events I will compete in during the 2021 season, but that will be decided with the coach and the management team and will include a review of all the competitions of the 2021 season.
Yes indeed, Tokyo 2021 is a great challenge to me personally after London 2012 and Rio 2016. Yet, I do think of it as any other milestone in my career, and I shall do my best while keeping in mind that competing for gold may be though, but it is not impossible.
I definitely have a strong bond with coach Stanislaw Szczyrba, and it is not just a coach-athlete relationship. It goes beyond the track and field, and is not limited to training. We are friends, we discuss all matters of life. This has facilitated communication between us, and we now understand each other, which grants us success.
When it comes to the High Jump record, I think no time is a good time to consider breaking it. I think I need to be focused on my training, (and my aim is to set this figure as a target during my training).
What’s important to me right now is to go back to competing in tournaments, in order to be physically fit and prepared, as would be the case for any athlete in my position.
I am currently focused on competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic games, after which it may be possible to take part in such events.
Injury has taught me that nothing is impossible when there is a will and hard work. I’ve got my friends and family’s support to thank for helping me triumph over injury, as well as my patient and devoted team and coach who have facilitated my strong comeback. But first and foremost, I thank God for everything, as success is actually a gift from above.
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