Mutaz Barshim is following in the footsteps of Arab track and field greats like Said Aouita, Nourredine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj. Born into an athletics family — his father had also competed in athletics and was the coach of one of the Doha clubs — Barshim concentrated on the high jump from the age of 15 onwards. After breaking the Qatar indoor record in 2010, at the age of just 19, he went on to take gold in the Asian Indoor Championships in the same year. Since then he has won an impressive set of medals, both in regional and international events. The highlights include a gold medal in the World Indoor Championships in Poland in 2014, silver at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013, and bronze at the London Olympics.
Barshim has a personal best of 2.43 metres, achieved last year at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York. It is the second-highest jump of all time, only 2cm below the world record, which was achieved by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor in 1993. Few would bet against him taking the record this year.