12 May 2024

Aspire Academy graduate and reigning Olympic high jump champion Mutaz Barshim hopes the inaugural What Gravity Challenge (WGC) will inspire future generations.

The three-time world champion developed the idea of the WGC as a world-class event but one that was different from the high jump competitions at regular athletics meetings.

To fulfil his dream, he chose to host the event in his home city of Doha at the exceptional Katara Amphitheatre.

As part of the pre-event activities, Mutaz Barshim invited Aspire Academy’s current high jump student-athletes to compete at the arena.

He joined them for a photo shoot after they had finished their competition and been awarded their medals.

Student-athletes from other disciplines then joined the Aspire high-jumpers to watch their inspiration, Mutaz Barshim, in the main event.

The WGC attracted many of the world’s top high jumpers, including former world champions Donald Thomas of the Bahamas, Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and current World Championship silver medallist Ju’Vaughn Harrison from the USA.

Among the several hundred fans watching was Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor, who is the only man to have jumped higher than Mutaz Barshim, whose world record of 2.45m has stood since 1993.

Thanks to his first-time clearances up to 2.31m, Mutaz Barshim won the event ahead of South Korea’s Woo Sang-Hyeok after both failed at 2.33m.

Mutaz Barshim was pleased to not only host the event but win it as well.

“It was really, really special to me for me. I feel like that's my ‘baby’, and now my ‘baby's’ has been born,” he said after lifting the specially designed trophy.

“It's the best start for that reality. I'm living my dream. Having a competition that's all in my name and winning the first edition, the cup stays home. I'm really, really happy.

“There has been a lot of positive feedback (from the other jumpers). Everybody's really happy. Everybody thinks it's great.”

“I'm really proud, and I cannot take all the credit because I have an amazing team behind everything.”

He was also thrilled to be able to involve student-athletes from Aspire Academy in the WGC and believes that Qatar can find his successor in the future.

“Aspire is my home. Before everything, I have great, great memories. I always feel like a part of me is with Aspire.

“The kids here—I see myself in these kids. I was in these kids' shoes, and I hope they will get inspired to go higher. And hopefully, one day, they will host their own events.”

“Definitely (we can produce another world champion). Why not? We have the most amazing facilities here.”

Martin Bercel, the Aspire Academy coach who oversaw the student-athletes who participated, was full of praise for the event.

“The Aspire Academy high jump team appreciated the opportunity to compete in the pre-competition event at the What Gravity Challenge organised by Mutaz,”

“For our young high jumpers, competing at the Katara Amphitheatre was an amazing experience. As importantly, it was a chance for them to watch world-class high jumpers in action from up close.

“We also used the opportunity to take photos with current and former world record holders Javier Sotomayor and Patrick Sjoberg.”

The WGC event was held on the evening of the Doha Diamond League meeting, which this year did not feature a high jump event. Aspire Academy student-athletes and graduates were involved.

The opening event of the meeting was a boys' 100m event that featured several Aspire athletes, and the  Academy team also won the boys' 4x100m relay.

Graduate Owaab Barrow was fourth in the West Asian Championship 100m that was included in the meeting.

He ran an impressive 10.44 seconds; however, the following wind of +3.8m/s means that it is not eligible to be considered a new personal best.

Another graduate, Moaaz Ibrahim, set a best for the season as he threw 59.71m in the discus, which was won by World Championship silver medallist Kristjan Ceh from Slovenia, with blustery wind conditions testing all the athletes in the field.

Previous News


Aspire Academy student-athlete Seif Hemeida and part-time athlete Oumar Doudai both won their second gold medals for Qatar in less than two weeks.

12 May 2024 Read More..

At the end of April, Aspire Academy’s Department of Education and Student Affairs organised one of its regular Umrah trips for a group of student-athletes.

06 May 2024 Read More..

Latest News