Barshim Begins Season With An Eye On Fourth Olympic Medal

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Doha: Global high jump superstar Mutaz Barshim feels fit ahead of the new season's opening competition today but the 32-year-old has his eyes fixed on another gold medal at this year's Paris Olympic Games.
The tall Qatari, who famously shared the high jump gold with Italian Gianmarco Tamberi at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, today faces world indoor champion Hamish Kerr in the men's high jump in Chinese city of Xiamen.
In a candid chat with the international media ahead of the opening round of the 2024 Wanda Diamond League, the three-time world high jump champion on Friday confidently said he can't wait for the new season to commence.
Excerpts from a Q&A session with Barshim:
Q: It's been six months since we last saw you compete. You were at the 2023 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. How has it been for you since your last competition?
A: As you said my last competition was the (2023) Asian Games here in China. It was an amazing atmosphere then. It was a great competition. I really loved it. I am really happy to be back in China, competing again. It is a very important season. It is the Olympics season. The last six months were more of a relaxing time, to be honest. I was doing my recovery. I had plans to compete indoors but then I had some (injury) issues so we decided not to risk it. Now I am feeling healthy again. My training has been going well. I am happy where I am at the moment. But it's my first meet of the season and I want to go out there and see what I can do. I am excited to compete.
Q: Is there a certain height you would be happy with in the new season?
It's still April so I don't know. I will be very happy if I win (in Xiamen). I want to push myself. I want to jump high. How high? I don't know (smiles). I will go tomorrow (today) and see. I want to go and put on a good show.
Q: Paris will be your fourth Olympics. Does it feel different or is it just another Olympics for you?
My fourth Olympics, wow! It's crazy. Definitely (it) feels different. For me, (competing at) Olympics was a dream, you know. I remember watching the Olympics on TV. I wanted to be there (competing) so bad. I told myself one day I will be there. Here I am - I have been to three Olympics. One silver, one gold and going for my fourth Olympics. You still get that tingle 'it is an Olympics year'. So, it definitely feels different. I am just going to prepare myself to be ready to fight and hopefully be on the podium.
Q: Did you enjoy the Asian Games last year?
A: Yes, I definitely enjoyed the Asian Games last year. It was really amazing competing in China. The crowds were packed at the venue. The fans were really supportive, I loved it. Everything was really top-notch. Since then I have been having my break. It was like an off-season break with my family. Then I started my training again. I didn't do the indoors because I had some minor injuries. I have overcome everything. So yeah, I feel good and feel healthy. When I feel good, I can jump. In terms of training. Because of injuries, I couldn't do my regular training. I know I have a lot of work coming. I am really excited. The training is going how I want it to go. I had a lower back pain and a hip injury. They were not big injuries. I didn't want to risk it. I am a smart athlete now. If I have a small niggle, I know I have to take care of it. I don't want to miss three four months of action because of injuries that I didn't take care of. I am older, wiser (laughs).
Q: Your good friend Gianmarco Tamberi, the high jumper, could be the flag-bearer for Italy at the Paris Olympics. How do you see that?
A: Oh yes, why not? He's a great athlete. He is the Olympic champion. That would be really nice to see (smiles).


Gulf Times

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