Breaking barriers

 26 Nov 2017 - 10:49

The Peninsula

Qatar’s golden boy Mutaz Barshim brought home another honour – this time a huge one – the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award. The new accolade by the 26-year-old speaks volume about his talent as he has become the first male high jumper in the history and the first Asian athlete to win this prestigious award. 

The gravity-defying double Olympic medalist defeated some big names of track and field including British superstar Mo Farah and South Africa’s 400m champion Wayde Van Niekerk to win the crown in Monaco on Friday. 

It was not just the “moment of pride and honour” for Barshim but for all Qatar, in fact, for whole of the Arab world. Barshim was also named the Best Athlete in Asia by the National Olympic Committee earlier this month.

These honours are the dividends of sheer hardwork and resolve which the lanky athlete has shown since years in which he had also defied frustrating injuries. 

He had a remarkable 2017, owing to consistent performance which ensured his domination in the discipline throughout the calendar year. 

Barshim started this year with a 2.35m leap in Jeddah in April and wrapped it up with a 2.40m jump in Eberstadt in August, sweeping top spots in all the competitions he was part of. 

He enjoyed an undefeated season winning all the 11 competitions. 

The high jumper won the world title in impressive fashion, clearing all of his heights up to his winning mark of 2.35m on his first attempt. One week after his triumph in London, he jumped a world-leading 2.40m in Birmingham and followed it four days later with a winning jump of 2.36m in Zurich to secure the IAAF Diamond League title.

Barshim’s successful career which also includes an Olympic Silver (Rio Olympics) and bronze (London Olympics) is also evident of Qatar’s fine planning for development of sports and nurturing its sporting talent. 

Barshim also admitted the backing by Qatari leadership in his address on Friday, and dedicated his award to H H the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and to Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) President H E Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani “for their support”. 

QOC President H E Sheikh Joaan, who is always there to motivate the Qatari athletes, accompanied Barshim in Monaco, which shows the love for sports the Qatari leadership possesses. 

Qatar’s continued planning and determination to promote sports and support its athletes are bound to produce more superstars in international arena like the brilliant Barshim who is just the beginning of country’s bright future in sports.