Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim leaps for a gold in high jump. Right: Barshim with his brother Moamer, who won the silver medal.
By Anil John/Doha
Mutaz Barshim virtually sleep-walked to the high-jump gold medal at the GCC Athletics Championships, his joy doubled by the fact he could share the podium with his younger brother, Moamer, who clinched silver in a rare family one-two.
On the final day of the regional event, it was Barshim’s dominating performance that was the highlight – a dash of controversy providing an additional talking point when his coach Stanisław Szczyrba had several heated arguments with field officials who were taking a lot of time in setting up the apparatus after every jump.
Barshim, the bronze medallist at the London Olympics last year, was not expected to sweat much, and sure enough he treated the event as a mild warm-up for the more challenging months ahead which includes the Diamond league meeting in Doha on May 10 and the IAAF World Championships in Moscow later in the year.
In fact, he didn’t even use his full run-up for his two jumps yesterday, casually running in from almost half the distance to clear 2.19 metres with his first attempt and then improving to 2.25 with this second.
Barshim could have won the competition with his first jump itself as nobody managed even 2.19, his brother Moamer winning silver with 2.16 and the UAE’s Saeed Abbas taking bronze, also with 2.16.
“It was special to share the podium with Moamer who is a special talent,” said the senior Barshim, 21.
“He is four years younger to me and it is good to see him come up the ranks so fast,” the Aspire Academy graduate added.
The pencil-thin Barshim, the world junior champion in 2010 and Asian record-holder, made his mark at the global stage when he won the bronze at the London Olympics with a leap of 2.29m, earning him considerable fame and fortune.
He revealed that he didn’t want to risk injury by using all his five attempts yesterday. “There’s always the fear of injury when you do the high-jumps. Once I was sure the gold was mine, there was no point in exerting myself because there are many important events to come.”
The younger Barshim, in fact, survived an injury scare with his third jump of 2.13m when he appeared to have done some damage to his thigh muscle.
Coach Szczyrba got into the action immediately, shouting: “no more jumps if you have sprained your thigh.” But after a short rest Moamer came back to clear 2.16 to take the silver, proving all was well.
Meanwhile, there were two more gold medals for Qatar with Mohamed al-Qarni winning the 1500m in a time of 4mins10.40secs and Mabrook Saleh Nasser claiming the 10km walk title.
Al-Qarni maintained a steady pace behind Kuwaiti Omar al-Rashidi for most of the race, but with almost 400 metres to go produced a stunning burst of pace to go way clear ahead.
“I was confident about winning the race,” said al-Qarni.
“I knew if I had to use my energy judiciously to generate speed towards the end.
Al-Qarni later went on to bag the silver in the 5,000m, a race he could have probably won with ease had he not spent much of his energy in the 1500m earlier.
Qatar’s Nasser won the 10km walk in 45mins10.43secs, with fellow Qatari Hussain al-Khair second in 51:26.72 and the UAE’s Jassim al-Sehli third in 54:36.15.
BELOW: Qatar’s Mohamed al-Qarni wins the 1500m. PICTURES: JayaramLast updated:
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