BY ARMSTRONG VAZ
Doha: Golden boy of Qatar athletics Mutaz Essa Barshim has firmly set his sights on clinching a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games and cautioned young athletes not to take the doping route to earn glory in track and field.
The 22-year-old long jumper, bronze medal winner at the London Games, said he is working on a plan to clinch gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“I am hungry for success and more medals. Winning the bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012 has been the high point of my sporting career so far. But I want to win more medals at the Olympics, hopefully I will be on the podium again and achieve better results and win gold at the next Olympics in Brazil,” Barshim said while speaking on the concluding day of the two-day symposium organised by Anti-Doping Lab Qatar (ADLQ).
Elaborating on his sporting achievements Brashim added: “Winning the first place at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland has been one of the great moments and also winning the gold at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Canada, besides the Asian titles, two of which were indoor’s and an equal number outdoors, are some of the high points of my career so far.”
Barshim said he has had stayed away from performance-enhancing substances and that was due to the sound advice he received time to time from athletics officials in Qatar.
“I take supplements but no doping substances. Those (supplements) are not doping substances but are normal supplements. As we live in the desert there is loss of minerals through dehydration. I train for four to five hours daily and to regain the minerals which I have lost in training I take the supplements. The supplements are for those minerals which are not found in the food I eat,” Barshim explained.
“I try to focus on my performance and not think what others are doing. With technological advances the drug cheats will be caught at some point in time, it may take too long, but they are sure to be caught,” he said.
When asked if he had been offered any doping materials by coaches, fellow athletes or trainers in his career, Barshim replied in the negative.
“Not yet (and it is) too late. We have good schools which educate and spread awareness on the ill effects of doping. We are also taught as to how to deal with such situations (when people approach with offers of doping). Deep down I am happy what I have achieved a lot without the help of drugs,” added Barshim, who stands 1.92m tall and weights 70kg.
Barshim, the first graduate of the state-of-the-art Aspire Academy to compete at the world championship-level and hold the national record in an Olympic sport, said he is following a strict diet much to his own dislike.
“In high jump, you have to be very careful about your body. The nature of my diet depends on the advice I get from my doctor and physio. They are the ones who guide me on the calories intake and the food I have to eat and what my body requires.
“I do not like the food I have to eat, but I have no choice. As a professional athlete, I have go by the advice of my team. I have not done anything like this before (eating food I dislike). My mother is not happy about it,” added Barshim, son of an athletics coach.
“My diet will kill you, it is not for you,” he said in lighter vein, in response to a question.
Barshim appreciated the work of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) officials who have been able to keep the sport clean.
There have been instances when WADA officials have come calling in the dead of the night to collect the samples, he said.
“The system is good. You have been woken up dead in the night or early morning or sometimes in the evening, but that is part of their job to keep the sports clean,” he added. THE PENINSULA