20 Sep 2020

Doha, 20 September 2020. Aspire Academy graduate and Qatari star athlete, High Jumper, Mutaz Barshim is back in full training after COVID-19 pandemic stopped all the athletic events, with his sights firmly set on 2021 Tokyo Olympics. It’s almost a year since Barshim became the first high jumper to defend a world championship title with pulsating home victory of the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha at Khalifa Stadium, just a stone throw away from his beloved alma mater Aspire Academy.  Barshim trains at Aspire and far now he and his coach and team are focused on routine training as they are still to set the schedule of the events to compete in during the 2021 season.

The COVID-19 pandemic has consigned the entire world to inactivity and a set-back to many disciplines in general. Set-backs are nothing new to Barshim, his gold medal performance at 2019 World Athletics Championship came on the back of recovery from an ankle injury that required surgery.   Barshim is back at Aspire where he has been preparing for the resumption of sport during the lockdown,  believes COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our lives, “Not competing in any championship for a whole season is undoubtedly a negative thing, but I will try to make the most out of it by training and exercising and have started back to my usual routine and the daily practice schedule in preparation for the championships that will pave the way to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.  I believe that feeling the pressure is something natural for every professional athlete such as myself. I even deem it essential for me to feel the pressure in all the competitions I take part of. Nonetheless, I must adapt to it, and prevent it from taking a toll on me, to channel the pressure into positive results.”

In a show of true sportsmanship and leadership, the Aspire graduate lent his voice and led by example raising awareness on the importance of following COVID-19 Government recommendations, in particular the “Stay at Home” message. “The pandemic has had a toll on the world, and athletes are no exception to that. However, athletes have the duty to give back to society, by leaving a positive impact. Sometimes we just have to make the right decision, and comply with the rules, even if it goes against our interests as athletes. The public health of the community takes precedence in such cases. Of course, staying home will do athletes no good, but there is a positive side to it, as it sends the message that preserving public health and safety is given utmost importance at both individual and community levels.”

So often Barshim has returned to Aspire Academy to encourage, motivate and give tips to student-athletes and striving for one’s best is a common theme of his.  “I personally strive to do my best in every tournament I take part in. I take each of the challenges very seriously and attempt to succeed. Seriousness is indeed an important factor in achieving success and winning. 2021 athletics season is another key one and going after a third Olympic medal  after London 2012 and Rio 2016 will be  a great challenge to me personally but I do think of it as any other milestone in my career, and I shall do my best while keeping in mind that competing for gold may be though, but it is not impossible.”

At a time when, at Aspire and all over the world everyone one of us has been dealt a set-back by the COVID-19 crisis, Barshim has some worthy advise for us all stemming from, what have you a career in sport. “I have had injuries in my career, and they taught me that nothing is impossible when there is a will and hard work. I’ve got my friends and family’s support to thank for helping me triumph over injury, as well as my patient and devoted team and coach who have facilitated my strong comeback. But first and foremost, I thank God for everything, as success is a gift from above,” concludes Mutaz Essa Barshim.

With thanks to Qatari Red Bull Athletes media team for quotes from Mutaz Barshim interview


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