The 2010 World U20 Championships provided both the career highs and lows for world high jump champion Mutaz Barshim.
“When I jumped 2.30m to win the world U20 title in Moncton, it was a massive moment for me.
“At the beginning of the year (when Barshim’s PB was 2.14m) I recall my coach (Stanislaw Szczybra) telling me that my take-off was a worth a jump of 2.30m. I looked at him like he was crazy.
“My technique at the time was not so good, but we worked hard on some technical areas and suddenly I started to make big improvements. The whole season went amazingly well for me and I seemed to jump a PB almost every week. I progressed to a best of 2.31m at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Hanoi.
“I went to the World U20s as world leader and I knew I could win. I was determined to make it happen. I remember it was a dream competition, which I secured with a leap of 2.24m. At that point my coach looked at me and said, ‘you have already won, go out and enjoy yourself’. I cleared 2.27m and then 2.30m and after that my happiness wouldn’t let me continue any more.
“I remember going to the crowd to receive the flag. It was a very big moment. I was so happy and pumped.
“It was such a significant moment for me because in 2009 I faced one of the hardest decisions of my life: to either stay with my coach in Qatar or take up a US scholarship. My coach had told me that I was a big talent and I faced a life decision. After discussing it with my family, I decided to focus 100% on sport.
“By winning the World U20s, I knew I’d made the right choice. I was so happy to win gold in Moncton. It was a big life-changing moment for me and the next year I turned pro.”
“My low moment actually came between the qualification and the final of the 2010 World U20 Championships in Moncton.
“My father was a former athlete and someone whom I regularly spoke to when I competed, but for some reason I couldn’t talk to him after my qualification. I later found out from my brother the reason why: it was because my grandfather, Muhammad, had suddenly passed away.
“It was a big shock. I don’t often cry, but they were tears and I was not in the best mood. At the same time, I knew I had to compose myself. I had to try to turn all this negative energy into something positive. I was determined to go out there and complete the job for both my father and grandfather.
“On the podium after winning gold, I was, of course, thinking of my grandfather and how proud he would have been.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF