It’s been a frantic 10 days for Mutaz Essa Barshim, the Qatari high jump star, since he added the only medal that was missing from his cabinet — the Olympic gold.
He shared the biggest win of his career with a dear friend, Gianmarco Tamberi, in Tokyo after both were tied at 2.37m and now he has been sharing his victory with all the wellwishers at home and abroad.
“The longest I have slept is 5 hours last night, and before that I would get only 2-3 hours. “Lots of celebrations and commitments, media and otherwise, but that is part and parcel, and so it’s OK,” the 30-year-old said yesterday.
He has even pushed back the release of a book he was writing over the last year to include the latest chapter in his glorious career.
“Everyone would have asked ‘why isn’t the Tokyo Olympics in there?’ I am fl ying soon, and hopefully I will get my editor to join me somewhere so we can work on it together, and now I just have to push the release dates back a bit.
“But I think it will be good,” he said. But despite all the noise and celebrations around his victory, the professional athlete in him keeps him focused on the next task.
“I am trying to keep training ahead of the fi nal Diamond League stop (in Zurich) in September but it isn’t easy.” Despite having won it all, Barshim has said that there is no lack of drive in him.
“I want to achieve the most I possibly can. The motivation and drive is there, but I need to be careful. I am at the stage of my life where I need to choose where I can compete. I am looking for remarkable jumps now.”
Of course, the world record is in his sights. “Only one person (Javier Sotomayor of Cuba with 2.45m) in the universe has jumped higher than me (2.43m), and that 1 or 2 cm might require 3 or 4 years of hard work and dedication. It is doable, I don’t believe in something being impossible. Before I retire I would like to do it,” he said.