Series23 Mar 2015

Personal bests – Mutaz Essa Barshim


Mutaz Essa Barshim ahead of the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco (© Giancarlo Colombo / IAAF)

Mutaz Essa Barshim has emerged in the past couple of seasons as a global icon of the sport, the second-best high jumper in history.

The 23-year-old Qatari tells us about some of the best aspects of his life in the wake of an outstanding unbeaten indoor season which also saw him raise the Asian indoor record to 2.41m.

My best friend in athletics

I have many. Warren Weir, Renaud Lavillenie, Dayron Robles. I'm also cool with all the high jumpers. I am a big fan of track and field generally and I really appreciate what the likes of Warren, Renaud and Dayron are achieving in the sport. We started to talk on the athletics circuit, we realised we had a lot in common and we have since taken that step forward into a good friendship.

My best achievement in athletics

Winning bronze at the 2012 Olympics helped open the door for me to reach the next level. I wasn't healthy coming into the Games (Mutaz was suffering from a back injury) but winning bronze in London helped me believe in myself.

My greatest disappointment

Any time when I have been injured. Sometimes when you feel great, are ready to compete and then get injured then that is the biggest blow. I was injured for two or three months in late 2011 and early 2012 with a back problem and I wasn't sure if I was going to compete at the London Olympics. I had a lot of problems with it and that is my greatest disappointment.

My best rival

I don't have one. To be honest, I always just look at myself. I always try to focus on myself, watch  videos of myself, and learn from that in an effort to improve my technique.

My best piece of advice

It is what my parents have always taught me, to stay patient. I remember when I was a younger, I was not always a great athlete. There was one two-year period when I was stuck at 1.65m. I was young and perhaps many youngsters would have become frustrated with the lack of progress and quit. Yet my family always supported me and made me feel like I was the best in the world. They always kept me positive and looking back it was almost as if they knew how my future was going to unfold.

My favourite venue

Hayward Field in Eugene is a very special place for me because it is the first place I ever cleared 2.40m. I always have a really good feeling in Eugene because the people there love athletics and I always feel like I get great support from the fans. I love many of the venues including Monaco, Rome and Brussels.

My best ever jump

I have quite a few. Last summer my 2.41m clearance in Rome and definitely my PB (and Asian record) in Brussels of 2.43m. I also liked my 2.37m clearance I did indoors at the Russian Winter meeting in 2013. I enjoyed my 2.42m in New York and another jump where I felt really good was my recent 2.41m jump indoors in Athlone, Ireland. 

My best achievement outside of athletics

My relationship with my family and friends, and my trust in them.

Steve Landells for the IAAF