Welcome to the World Champs 2023 Preview, Day 6.
For the next 39 days, RunBlogRun will be posting a story a day on the buildup to the World Athletics Outdoor Championships, to be held in Budapest, Hungary, from August 19-August 27, 2023.
Today, April 22, 2023, we are writing about athletes from Asia.
Mutaz Essa Barshim is the focus of our column today.
Mutaz Essa Barshim is one of the most decorated athletes ever in the high jump. His sharing of his title in Tokyo 2021 with Gianmarco Tamberi captured the hearts of fans across the world with their decision to not take a tie-breaker.
Mutaz first came on the scene in 2010 when he won the Asian Indoor and Asian Outdoor Games in the high jump.
In 2011, the young Qatari athlete took seventh in the World Championships in Daegu, Korea. His entertaining style and promise were already making him a crowd favorite.
Mutaz Essa Barshim, 2018 Birmingham World Indoor Champs, photo by Mike Deering/The Shoe Addicts
In Winter 2012, prior to the Olympics, Mutaz won the Asian Indoor Games once again, and his clearance was spectacular a 2.37m Asian record!
The London Olympics were fantastic, with 80,000 fans a session and a knowledgeable crowd at that. When Mutaz Barshin took the bronze medal, it was his first global medal! (In 2019, Barshim was upgraded to the silver medal due to the disqualification of Ivan Uhkhov).
In Moscow in 2013, in the humid conditions of the Lushnieki stadium, Mutaz Essa Barshim took the silver medal, delighting the Kingdom of Qatar, with his 2.38m clearance.
2014 was a big year for Barshim. In Sopot, Poland, Mutaz Essa Barshim won the gold medal in the WA Indoor Champs with a clearance of 2.38m, another Asian record. This writer witnessed that jump, and Barshim had the entire crowd in Sopot on their feet with his spectacular clearance and his unbridled enthusiasm after his clearance.
Mutaz is highly competitive, and his focus must be seen to be believed. His long run-up to the bar and then his explosive vertical conversion as he reaches the bar is enthralling. Barshim truly showed the world his stuff in 2014.
This writer wants to take to you the adidas NYC Grand Prix on Randalls Island in New York City. In this meet, the Perfect Storm came about, Mutaz Barshim and Bodhan Bonderenko, the 2013 World Champion, battled all the way to 2.42 meters, where Barshim cleared on his first attempt, setting a new Asian record. The crowd went bonkers! Then, Bohdan Bondarenko cleared 2.42 meters! The crowd was insane! Bondarenko then passed 2.44 meters, as did Mutaz, and then both went for it, making six attempts at 2.46 meters, one centimeter over the current WR held by Javier Sotomayer, CUB, since 1993!
Later that summer, in another supreme battle with Bondarenko, Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.43, making him the number 3 high jumper all time, just behind a 2.44-meter and a 2.45-meter clearance by Mr. Sotomayer.
The next year, 2015, had the World Champs in Beijing in the Bird’s Nest, the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In Beijing, Mutaz ended up finishing 4th, just outside the medals.
In 2016, Mutaz Essa Barshim added another silver medal to his London 2012 medal with his high jump performance in cold Rio de Janeiro. Mutaz had taken 4th in the World Indoor Champs in Portland, Oregon.
In London 2017, the crowd from London 2012 was back, and Mutaz Essa Barshim’s 2.35-meter performance captured the crowd in the Olympic Stadium.
In 2018, Mutaz added another gold medal for Qatar with his 2.38m performance but came up short of a silver medal in Birmingham, England, for his 2.33-meter jump.
Mutaz Essa Barshim, 2018 World Indoor Champs, photo by The Shoe Addicts/Mike Deering
2019 may have been the most glorious day of his career. In front of 40,000 Qatari fans in Doha, Qatar, Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.37 meters to take WC gold in front of the Royal family and his country’s people. What a moment to win in front of your country!
Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi enjoy their gold medal performances in Tokyo, 2021, photo by Getty Images for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
In 2021, the world became totally aware of this fine athlete. After an exhausting competition, where Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi cleared 2.37m, the two athletes agreed to no tie-breaker, sharing the Olympic gold medal. The fans on social media went crazy, and the media wrote how the two high jumpers, during the height of the pandemic, had captured the hearts of a worldwide audience!
Mutaz Essa Barshim, on a roll, won the high jump once again at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, taking number 3 with a clearance of 2.37m, giving him three gold World Championship gold medals in a row.
Mutaz Essa Barshim, from a Richard Mille advertisement, photo courtesy of RichardMille.com
This writer has interviewed Mutaz Essa Barshim several times, one of my favorites being at the Paris Diamond League, where Mutaz admitted his competitive nature and also his love of the competitions.
At the end of the summer season in 2023, Mutaz Essa Barshim announced that he had signed a long-term sponsorship deal with PUMA after having been with NIKE for most of his career. Here is a video that Mutaz did with PUMA that we thought was a good view into his demeanor as he builds to Budapest.
The World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, will be held August 19-27, 2023, and tickets are available now! Click here to learn more about ticket sales: https://tickets.wabudapest23.com/
Your favorite writer suggests a wonderful book on Hungary, The Hungarians, A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, by Paul Lendvai, Translated by Ann Major, Princeton University Press, www.pupress.princeton.edu.