|High Jump||2.43||Bruxelles (Boudewijnstadion)||05 SEP 2014|
|High Jump||2.41||Athlone||18 FEB 2015|
|2015||2.41||Eugene (Hayward Field), OR||30 MAY|
|2014||2.43||Bruxelles (Boudewijnstadion)||05 SEP|
|2013||2.40||Eugene (Hayward Field), OR||01 JUN|
|2012||2.39||Lausanne (Pontaise)||23 AUG|
|2016||2.36||Mälmo (Atleticum)||13 FEB|
|2014||2.38||Sopot (Ergo Arena)||09 MAR|
|IAAF World Indoor Championships||4||2.29||Portland (Oregon Convention Center), OR||19 MAR 2016|
|15th IAAF World Championships||4||2.33||Beijing (National Stadium)||30 AUG 2015|
|2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014||3||2.34||Marrakech (Le Grande Stade)||13 SEP 2014|
|IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014||1||2.38||Sopot (Ergo Arena)||09 MAR 2014|
|14th IAAF World Championships||2||2.38||Moskva (Luzhniki)||15 AUG 2013|
|The XXX Olympic Games||3||2.29||London (Olympic Stadium)||07 AUG 2012|
|IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012||9||2.28||Istanbul (Ataköy Arena)||11 MAR 2012|
|13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics||7||2.32||Daegu (DS)||01 SEP 2011|
|13th IAAF World Junior Championships||1||2.30||Moncton (Moncton Stadium)||23 JUL 2010|
|13th IAAF World Indoor Championships||14q1||2.23||Doha (Aspire Dome)||12 MAR 2010|
Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.
Updated 18 March 2016
Mutaz Essa BARSHIM, Qatar (High Jump)
Born: 24 June, 1991 Doha (Qatar)
Coach: Stanislaw “Stanley” Szczyrba
Mutaz means "pride" in Arabic, his first tongue, but in eloquent English, Mutaz Essa Barshim quickly explains how his parents have chosen wisely in naming their son.
At the age of 24 he is also the pride of his country, having amassed a portfolio of high jump titles which would content many after a lifetime in athletics. Not for him a young boy's athletics dreams, no tales of practising in the garden, or of make-believe competitions. "I never played around at high jump as a kid - never did any of that stuff," he says.
This jumper's journey began unconventionally, as a competitive race-walker. Two seasons as an endurance runner followed before club coach Helmy Abosalama spotted his jumping potential. This set Mutaz on a road which has led to a recurrent golden harvest. And perhaps the route was not so unusual, for he started by following in his father's footsteps, continuing a family tradition.
Among his earliest memories is seeing his father compete on television, and rushing to inform the neighbours.
"He was an athlete in the national team, in both walking and running events," explains Mutaz. "He did the 20km walk and 10km running. I saw him on TV many times, and I was going to events to watch him. I liked it. He was Gulf champion maybe two or three times, and won medals in the Arab championships - I think bronze, or silver. I remember him doing the victory sign on TV, and I ran to the neighbours, to tell them. I was young, maybe eight or nine.
"So when I first started athletics, because of my father (who is a police officer) I walked - not much, just one or two competitions. I didn't like it, so I went to long distance and did two seasons of that. It was fun, but not later. I was quite good, always in the first three, but I liked jumping more. I found it was more interesting, more fun to do. It was only after Helmy, the club coach, saw me jump that I was interested. I tried long jump, triple jump, high jump - all of them, for two or three seasons - but eventually settled on the latter discipline.
He studied in Doha at an Arabic school, but for one day a week they were only allowed to speak English and through a combination of extensive travel and watching movies his English improved.
He showed some early promise as a high jumper and leapt 2.14m to finish third at the Gulf Championships in Qatif in 2009 but it was only after meeting his current coach Stanislaw “Stanley” Szczyrba – former coach to Sweden’s 2007 European Indoor silver medallist Linus Thornblad - later that year did he start to treat the sport more seriously.
“I turned up for my first session (with Szczyrba) and I was playing with a basketball,” adds Mutaz. “He stood there amazed. He told me I had “a real talent” and that one day I can jump 2.40m. It was a hard thought to comprehend that he believed I could jump so high.”
Mutaz admits his new coach was a hard taskmaster and they did not, initially, always see eye to eye. However, the Qatari high jumper’s trust started to grow after he leapt 2.20m for the first time at an indoor meet in Malmo in January 2010.
“That was huge for me,” admits Mutaz. “After I jumped 2.20m I started to believe. Then we started working together as one person.”
Adopting a more professional approach to the sport - in terms of carefully controlling his diet and making sure he received the requisite rest - he describes 2010 as a “key” season in his career development.
“From 2010 I could see that everything was starting to come together for me as an athlete,” he observes.
That year he not only smashed through the 2.20m barrier for the first time, but continued to improve throughout the summer season and at the Asian Junior Championships in Vietnam in July he also cracked the 2.30m barrier with a 2.31m clearance.
In an unforgettable breakthrough year for Mutaz, he also secured the Arab and Gulf junior titles and announced himself as a potential star of the future by taking a commanding victory courtesy of a 2.30m clearance at the World Junior Championships in Moncton.
On the back of this performance in Canada, several US colleges offered the then teenage Qatari a scholarship but he turned them down because he was happy with the way his career was starting to blossom under his new coach.
He capped an outstanding 2010 campaign with victory against his top senior rivals at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in China. He secured gold with 2.27m.
In 2011, his career advanced another step forward as he gained more crucial international experience, improving his personal best to a national record 2.35m with victory at the Asian Championship in Kobe, Japan.
His burgeoning reputation on the international stage was solidified with top three finishes at Diamond League meets in his native Doha and Stockholm while he also performed with distinction on his World Championship debut in Daegu, only missing out on bronze on countback.
"From third to seventh, all of us did 2.32m," he explains. "It could have been a bronze, but one jump - I missed it.”
He adds of the year: “I was trying to push it 100 percent, but I wasn't quite ready (for competing at this level) and I made a lot of technical mistakes. Nothing was perfect, but I knew there was also a lot of room to improve, so that winter I started to focus on more technically work with the coach and to train lot smarter in an effort to get to the next level.”
Barshim opened his indoor campaign in 2012 in spectacular fashion. In only his second competition, he set an Asian indoor record of 2.33m in Spala before clearing 2.37min Hangzhou to take gold at the Asian Indoor Championships.
Many expected him to strike gold at the World Indoor Championships, in Istanbul, but the experience proved a chastening one for Mutaz as he disappointed in the final to finish ninth equal with a best of 2.28m.
“It was a big lesson for me, because in my own mind I was already the winner,” he admits of his 2012 World Indoor Championship memories. “I was celebrating too early, but it was a really good lesson for me that I need to go through all the processes to win at a major competition.”
After winning the Asian Indoor Championships in February he had started to encounter problems with his back. He had jumped reasonably well in the early part of the summer season – he cleared 2.31m in Warsaw in June – before the pain levels became too intense. It was at that point he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back.
Facing the best part of a month where he could do little more than walk and stretch, he returned to competition in the Polish capital in mid-July and cleared 2.33m, but at his final pre-London Olympic competition, he disappointed to finish down in seventh with a modest best of 2.26m in Monaco.
He entered the London Olympics apprehensive of his prospects after a troubled build up, but battled through the pain barrier to pull off a share of the bronze medal with 2.29m. It was a huge moment for him and his compatriots.
“Considering the situation with my back, to win a medal (in London) was perfect. It was only my country's fourth medal in Olympic history (and second ever in athletics, the other coming 20 years earlier, when Mohammed Suleiman won bronze in the men’s 1500m at the Barcelona Games). It meant a lot to them (his fellow Qataris). They felt pride seeing the flag fly at the Olympics.”
Yet his season highlight was still to come. Eleven days after winning Olympic bronze, Mutaz equalled his outdoor national record of 2.35m to win in Eberstadt, in Germany. Yet he recalls the competition most vividly for finally being able to jump pain free.
“Something seemed to release in my back,” he explains. He moved on to his next competition in Lausanne full of confidence. “I knew I could finally push and nothing was going to hold me back.”
That night inside the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, the fans were treated to a captivating three-way competition for victory between Russia's recently minted Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov and Great Britain's Robbie Grabarz, who along with Mutaz took a share of the Olympic bronze medal. The trio all successfully cleared 2.37m, but it was the Qatari who clinched victory courtesy of a second attempt clearance at 2.39m for an Asian record.
His 2013 campaign started positively as he snagged victory in five of his six indoor competitions never dipping below 2.30m and equalling his Asian indoor record of 2.37m in Moscow.
Outdoors he also achieved a new landmark height. After placing second and first respectively at the Doha (2.30m) and Shanghai (2.33m) Diamond League meetings, he entered a very exclusive club by clearing 2.40m to win at the Eugene Diamond League.
“It may only be 0.01m higher than my previous bests, but to join membership of the 2.40m club meant everything to me,” says Mutaz, who divides his training time between Sweden, Poland and Qatar and trains alongside his younger brother by two-and-a-half years, Muaamer Barshim, himself a 2.28m high jumper.
Sadly, the back issues returned and Barshim had a difficult period of preparation in the countdown to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. He missed three weeks of training but managed to perform with distinction when it mattered most inside an atmospheric Luzhniki Stadium.
In an epic competition - the greatest ever in World Championship history – Mutaz secured silver courtesy of a first time clearance at 2.38m, as Ukrainian beanpole Bohdan Bondarenko struck gold with 2.41m.
“It was a great competition and I was very happy to perform to that level,” he reflects. ‘I’m really happy to be jumping in these times with so many other great high jumpers. It is the best event in track and field at the moment. Sometimes jumping a height of 2.35m or 2.36m is not good enough even for top three.”
Barshim’s 2014 campaign started with a bang as he secured his first global senior title with victory at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot. He enjoyed a perfect record up to and including 2.38m (an Area indoor record) to edge Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov for gold on countback.
It was a big breakthrough for the Qatari jumper. “It meant a lot to win,” he explains. “I wanted to win the title badly after what happened in 2012 (at World Indoors). It showed me I had grown up and could meet the challenge.”
During the outdoor campaign, his career has again stepped up a notch. He set another Asian record of 2.41m when winning the Rome Diamond League and he added a further 0.01m to his best – to climb to joint second on the all-time high jump lists in New York.
Remarkably, despite the level of his performance in “The Big Apple” he had to settle for second on countback to Bondarenko The pair then attempted in vain 2.46m for a new World record..
After a second place finish behind Bondarenko in Monaco he then soared above the 2.40m mark for the third time this year with a 2.41m clearance to win in Eberstadt. Mutaz then clinched victory with 2.38m to win his penultimate Diamond League meet of the year in Birmingham.
Barshim concluded his Diamond League campaign for 2014 courtesy of a captivating first time clearance at 2.43m to secure the overall IAAF Diamond League title in Brussels with an Asian record, World leading mark and Diamond League record.
It was a new personal best which elevated him from joint second to outright second on the all-time lists.
However, Barshim was not able to maintain that level at the Continental Cup in Marrakech a week later, and was beaten into third place by Bondarenko and Ukhov, clearing 2.34m.
He concluded the year adding another gold to his collection, taking his second Asian Games title in Incheon with 2.36m, after an early scare when he needed all three attempts to clear the opening height of 2.20m
His outstanding form returned in the 2015 indoor campaign. At the Bankstra Bystrica meet he added two centimetres to his Asian indoor record with a 2.40m clearance and he added a further centimetre to the mark in Athlone, Ireland with another outstanding display.
2.19. was sufficient for Barshim to take the Arab Championships title in April. The Qatari athlete then began his outdoor season in earnest, in sparkling form, with Diamond League victories in Shanghai (2.38m) and Eugene (2.41m). However, he was to surrender an eight competition unbeaten run when he had to settle for bronze with a modest best of 2.20m at the Asian Championships – a final, it should be noted, which was played out in heavy rain in Wuhan, China.
On his return to the Diamond League circuit he struggled to rediscover his rhythm as he placed third equal in Oslo (2.33m), fifth in Paris (2.29m) third in London (2.28m) and second in Stockholm (2.29).
Then at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, a clearly below par Barshim had to settle for fourth with a best of 2.33m - missing out on the three-way jump off for the medals following a first time failure at the 2.29m height.
However, the highly competitive Barshim was to end his season on a high note with victory in the final Diamond League meet on the season in Zurich with a best of 2.32m to bank his second successive men’s high jump victory in the overall Diamond League race.
Mutaz began his indoor campaign in 2016 with four successive victories – clearing a season’s best of 2.36m in Malmo and also clinching a fourth successive Asian Indoor title in front of his home fans in Doha.
The Qatari hopes to continue the series in Portland, to retain his World Indoor title from Sopot 2014.
As for the future, Barshim would love to add a global outdoor title to his CV but the 2.45m World record of Cuban high jump great Javier Sotomayor is also a tantalising target.
“I would like one day to be the World record holder,” he said in the summer of 2014. “Five years from now I would like to have achieved that goal.”
Away from the track Mutaz says he likes to hang out with family and friends and is a big fan of movies “comedy, documentaries and action, but not horror”
He enjoys basketball for fun but that deep down he is “a track and field man” and loves his sport.
His religion obliges Mutaz to fast during Ramadan, but he insists that presents no difficulty: "I am a high jumper. It's a positive thing for me not to eat." He delivers an explosive burst of laughter: "I get light! So it doesn't matter, actually. In Europe it is harder, because the days are longer - much longer. In Sweden I was dying. I fasted some, but it's not like I MUST do it. I can, like, take some days off. And when I get back I can fast, make it up after. If you are sick, or a woman is pregnant, there is a cause to be excused. I can take the fast later.”
2007 1.95; 2008: 2.07; 2009: 2.14; 2010: 2.31; 2011: 2.35; 2012 2.37i; 2013: 2.40; 2014: 2.43 2015 2.41
2010 1st Asian Indoor Championships (Tehran) 2.20
2010 14q World Indoor Championships (Doha) 2.23
2010 1st Arab Junior Championships (Cairo) 2.23
2010 1st Asian Junior Championships (Hanoi) 2.31
2010 1st World Junior Championships (Moncton) 2.30
2010 1st Asian Games (Guangzhou) 2.27
2011 1st Asian Championships (Kobe) 2.35
2011 1st Military World Games (Rio de Janeiro) 2.29
2011 7th World Championships (Daegu) 2.32
2011 1st Arab Championships (Al Ain) 2.25
2011 1st Pan Arab Games (Doha) 2.30
2012 1st Asian Indoor Championships (Hangzhou) 2.37
2012 9th= World Indoor Championships (Istanbul) 2.28
2012 3rd= Olympic Games (London) 2.29
2012 1st West Asian Championships (Dubai) 2.32
2013 1st Arab Championships (Doha) 2.30
2013 2nd World Championships (Moscow) 2.38
2014 1st Asian Indoor Championships (Hangzhou) 2.36
2014 1st World Indoor Championships (Sopot) 2.38
2014 3rd Continental Cup (Marrakech) 2.34
2014 1st Asian Games (Incheon) 2.35
2015 1st Arab Championships (Manama) 2.19
2015 3rd Asian Championships (Wuhan) 2.20
2015 4th World Championships (Beijing) 2.33
2016 1st Asian Indoor Championships (Doha) 2.35
Prepared by Steve Landells and Doug Gillon for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2012-2016.