x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Qatari jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim sets high targets for 2014

A silver-medallist at last year’s World Championships in Moscow, Qatari high-jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim has set his sights on an Olympic gold medal and hopes to challenge for the world record.

DUBAI // A silver-medallist at last year’s World Championships in Moscow, Qatari high-jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim has set his sights on an Olympic gold medal and hopes to challenge for the world record.

The 22-year-old son of a former Qatari athlete, Barshim cleared 2.38 metres when he finished second behind Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko (2.41m) at the World Championships in August.

Two months earlier, he had set a new Asian record with a jump of 2.40m at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League Meet in Eugene, Oregon, becoming only the eighth man in history to clear that mark outdoors and the first since 2000.

A winner of numerous gold medals at junior level, Barshim also took bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and his impressive performances on the international arena have earned him the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award’s Arab Athlete of the Year title.

“We have started 2014 with this award and hopefully it will push me a little bit,” Barshim said.

“Now we have the indoor season starting next month, but it’s going to be a short one for me because I am not thinking of competing a lot. Maybe two or three competitions at the max because I don’t want to get ­injured.

“It’s going to be a long season from, say, May to October, finishing with the Incheon Asian Games in Korea. So that [Asia gold] is going to be the target for us.”

The “ultimate” dream for Barshim is to win the Olympic gold and his 2.40m last year has raised his hopes of a possible challenge to Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m.

“My dream is to win an Olympic gold, three hopefully,” he laughed. “After that I don’t know. The 2.40m gives me confidence because I know I have the ability to probably have a chance at the world record. So that gives me motivation for the coming years.”

arizvi@thenational.ae