DOHA – The Qatar’s Olympic and two-time world champion high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim will open his outdoor season at the Doha Diamond League on Friday with a big target in mind.
The 30-year-old, who has the world’s second highest jump (2.43M) against his name, is keen to complete a hat-trick of gold medals at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, later this year.
“At the 2019 Worlds, someone asked me how I’d feel defending my world title and becoming the first male high jumper to do so. That stuck with me. Now I’m motivating myself by saying it’ll be even better to be the only guy to win three in a row. It keeps me going,” he said at the pre-event press conference on Thursday.
Mutaz will be in action for the first time since famously sharing the Olympic gold with Italian Gianmarco Tamberi last year. Tamberi too was present at the press conference and the two said they might not share the first place in the future in a similar scenario, terming their Tokyo gesture as a unique one.
Mutaz later told Inside Qatar that he had only a few events charted out this season.
“At the moment, my confirmed competitions are the Diamond Leagues in Doha and Rome (June 9). I’ll also compete in the GCC Games in Kuwait next week. I may do one more event before the Eugene Worlds in July, but it isn’t confirmed. Once Eugene is done, I’ll probably do all remaining events,” he said.
The Qatari acknowledged the risks of starting his season earlier than expected.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t at home, I probably wouldn’t have jumped. But Doha is home and my people will be out there, my family and friends, cheering for me. That’s always a special feeling. I took my first steps in the sport I love here and it’ll always be special,” he said.