BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Carrying the medal in his pocket, Qatar’s ‘golden boy’ Mutaz Essa Barshim joked that he forgot to bring the shiny mettle he won in Poland just two days ago.
Barely a couple of seconds later, Barshim took the gold medal out of his pocket and posed for photographers at the Doha International Airport after he was received by Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) officials and family members that included his brothers and father.
On Sunday, Barshim claimed gold medal in the men’s high jump competition during day three of the IAAF World Indoor Championships at Ergo Arena in Polish city of Sopot.
The 22-year-old Barshim, who won world outdoor silver in Moscow last year and 2012 Olympic bronze in London, jumped a best of 2.38 metres.
Russian Ivan Ukhov took silver on countback, with Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko claiming bronze with a best of 2.36m.
“It feels great. I am satisfied and I am so happy,” Barshim said yesterday. “I am just tired,” he added with a smile.
Barshim said he was eyeing gold after putting in weeks of preparation for last week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships.
“That was the goal,” he said when asked about his expectations prior to the start of the World Championships. “And I achieved what I was looking for,” he added. Barshim said high jump had become huge in the world of track and field.
“High jump is big now. It was tough. I was the leader. I was expected to take the gold and I made a great effort. It was a team effort,” Barshim explained.
Did he feel pressure going into his final jump? No, according to Barshim.
“What is pressure? Life is pressure,” the Qatari said with a smile. “I like to have this kind of pressure. I enjoyed myself,” he said. Barshim dedicated the win to everyone ‘who has backed him’.
“Look, I don’t want to name names because I may miss out some (smiles). I dedicate this to everybody who has helped me in my career,” Barshim said.
“I dedicate this gold to the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatar Olympic Committee, Qatar Athletics Federation President, the federation people, my coaches, my family, my fans, everybody,” he said. Barshim said winning was important, not the height.
“It is all about the championship. It is about the gold medal. It doesn’t matter what height I jump. What matters is I got the gold,” Barshim said.
“I don’t watch anyone. I just watch my performances. I don’t know what my (training) programme is like (in March). Like I said, I am just tired,” Barshim said with a smile.
Barshim’s Polish coach Stanislaw Szczyrba said it was a time to celebrate.
“Not everybody is lucky like me. It is time to celebrate,” Szczyrba said after arriving with his smiling champion. “Our future programme is to keep working hard. We will train at Al Sadd. We always train there,” he added.
“Out target is the Doha Diamond League (in May). But now we celebrate,” he said with a smile. Szczyrba said Qatar will target the Olympic gold.
“Olympic gold is waiting for us. That’s our main target. We want the gold medal,” Szczyrba said.
“He can jump 2:50. Yes, he can. Two years ago I said he will do well at World Indoor Championships. I am so happy (I was proved right),” he said.
Father Eissa Mohammed Barshim was also pleased with his son’s performance.
“I knew he would get the gold. He was very focused. His concentration was very good,” Barshim senior said. “I watched him in action on TV. I enjoyed watching his brilliant jumps,” he added.