Retirement comes to my mind but ambition drives me, says Barshim

The Peninsula

Doha: Three Olympic medals including a gold at the ongoing Tokyo Games, back-to-back World titles and multiple Diamond League victories, Mutaz Barshim has almost achieved all the glory in his illustrious career despite facing many injury setbacks.    

With the gold in Tokyo on Sunday, Barshim also completed a set of medals including a bronze at London 2012 and 2016 Rio Games silver medal, becoming the first Asian to do so in athletics.

But the 30-year-old still eyes a lot of ambitions as he goes against the idea of retirement. 

“Retirement comes to my mind but ambition motivates me to continue,” the high jump superstar Barshim said in an interview with a media delegation in Tokyo yesterday. 

Brashim agreed to share gold medal with his Italian friend Gianmarco Tamberi, deciding against the tie-breaker after both scaled 2.37m in the men’s high jump final. 

To a query, the Qatari hero said his target was to win a gold medal in Tokyo not the world record of 2.45m, set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor back in 1993.  

“World record is among my goals but adventure in Olympics is not possible,” he said. 

Speaking about the hardships in his career, Barshim said coming back in action at the World Championships 2019 to retain his London title after a long injury lay-off was his biggest challenge.  

“It was the biggest challenge but the motivation from home fans and pressure to win helped me clinching the title,” he said before adding that Aspire Academy has had an impact on his career, saying, “my message to students is nothing is impossible.” 

“In Doha (World Championships), the level was good, but the challenge at the time was that I was returning from an injury. The fear and question was will I succeed in the task or not, especially since there was no time or tournaments to prepare. The ratio at the time was 50:50, but there was a pressure factor very big from the audience at Khalifa International Stadium, and thank Allah for the achievement,” he added.

He said the competition in the high jump final in Tokyo was tough. 

“The event was more difficult and the strongest in the history of the Olympic Games in the modern era. It is difficult to find three players who win with a height of over 2.37, as well as two players who exceed 2.35 and no players of 2.33. It was historically the best competition,” said Barshim. 

When asked about his routine on the nights of finals, Barshim said he try to take rest as much as possible. 

“They are different nights. I always try to rest as much as possible. Sometimes, I speak with my parents or watch movies and series so that I can overcome the pressure and be completely comfortable before entering the competition,” he said. 

He added: “During the jumps I also relax. I get a moment to think and focus on my next jump. It is definitely better than continuing to stand up and watching the other guys jump because it distracts me. When I close my eyes for a minute or two, I get time to gather my thoughts and review.”