Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim warmed up for the Doha Diamond League in style by claiming joint first position with Japan’s Naoto Tobe at the Ready Steady Tokyo meeting on Sunday. The event is part of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series.
A battle between Barshim and Japan’s top three athletes had been expected in the men’s high jump, but a jump off between Qatar’s two-time Olympic medallist and the Japanese indoor record-holder Tobe took things up another notch.
With both athletes clearing heights from 2.15m to 2.30m on their first attempts and then failing their three goes at 2.33m, they then took it in turns to attempt 2.33m, 2.31m and 2.29m to decide the winner.
Since retaining his world title on home soil in 2019, Barshim had competed just once, also in Doha, where he managed 2.25m in March this year. In Tokyo both athletes were clearly feeling the strain after a long competition and therefore decided to share victory ahead of Takashi Eto, who also cleared 2.30m but had required two attempts at that height as well as three at 2.27m.
Competing in the stadium which will host Olympic athletics action this summer, Kazuki Kurokawa and Ryuji Miura were among the athletes to rise to the occasion. But on the track, it was Kurokawa and Miura who had the races of their lives in the 400m hurdles and 3000m steeplechase respectively.
For Kurokawa, that resulted in a PB of 48.68 to lead the top three all under the Olympic qualifying mark of 48.90. The 19-year-old, who is coached by 1997 world indoor 400m bronze medallist Shunji Karube, led from start to finish and although tiring in the closing stages he held on to improve on his previous best of 49.19 set last year.
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