As the Olympic Games Paris 2024 are looming up, high jump legend Mutaz Barshim from Qatar sat with The Dialogue to discuss his career and his vision on the sport he raised to an art to become Olympic and triple World Champion.
Mutaz Essa Barshim is the most successful athlete Qatar has ever seen. His father, who was also a professional athlete, is his hero and inspiration. He tried track and field sports as a youngster, but at around 14 years of age, he fell in love with the high jump. Since then, his sporting career has gone from strength to strength, as The Dialogue discovered during a fascinating conversation.
Mutaz Barshim made history after being crowned the high jump World Champion three times in a row. Dedicating himself to the sport, he added the prestigious accolade of Olympic Champion in Tokyo during the summer of 2021.
But Mutaz’s career is not only trophies and success. He had to go through challenging moments, physically and mentally. In 2018, he tried to set a new world record but unfortunately was injured by a career-ending type of injury. But he fought his way back to the top and retained his world title. Mutaz told The Dialogue that it was one of the highlights of his career, and being at home in Doha in front of his home crowd made it all the more special.
Mutaz credits his coach, Stanisław Szczyrba, as the first person to see his potential. Despite a rough start – Mutaz admits he did not like him – ‘Coach Stanley’ earned his trust and shaped him from a rough diamond to the legend he is today. With his help, Mutaz achieved the second-best performance of all time. He jumped 2,43 metres, just two centimetres short of Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s world record (2,45 metres).
Never satisfied, Mutaz Barshim always strives to perform at his best. He doesn’t display his trophies at home, fearing they could distract him. However, his fans can view his medals and read about his inspirational life story in an area dedicated to his sporting achievements at the 321 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha.