Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright

High and low – Mutaz Essa Barshim

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.

Mutaz Essa Barshim with the high jump gold medal at the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton (Getty Images)Mutaz Essa Barshim with the high jump gold medal at the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton (Getty Images) © Copyright


“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.

Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim (AFP / Getty Images)Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright


“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