Mutaz Essa Barshim was a superb winner of the men’s High Jump final tonight in Moncton, the young Qatari clearing 2.30 on his first attempt and with some margin to spare.
Barshim, who is also the national senior record holder at 2.31, had a clean sheet until 2.24 never withstanding the leading position in a competition in which all but two athletes were still in contention at 2.17. The next height proved to be the turning point of the competition as Barshim and the USA’s David Smith being the only two jumpers to clear the first time of asking.
Smith and Barshim were sharing the lead and waited patiently while every other athlete in contention missed their first two attempts. As it turned out only three men sailed over 2.21 the third time round with Naoto Tobe of Japan holding on for bronze courtesy of a clean sheet up until that point.
Nikita Anishchenko of Russia paid for a first time failure at 2.17 which ultimately cost him a precious medal while Qichao Jin of China was to be fifth at 2.21 as well.
Serious business started at 2.24; Barshim cleared the first time around and took sole hold of the gold medal position for the first time in the competition. It took Smith two tries to improve his personal best by 1 centimetre and remain in contention.
The bar was raised at 2.26, a height only Barshim had mastered before. It proved just that little bit too much for Smith who had to settle for silver. On the other hand, Barshim soared well clear with his second attempt.
Only he was left in the competition and with the gold medal secured he asked for the bar to be moved at 2.30; a superb first time clearance and for the first time the Qatari let his joy explode on the mattress.
Barshim wanted more tonight but it wouldn’t be a day for 2.32 although his very first try was tantalising close.