Qatar’s high jump star Barshim shares gold medal with compatriot at Gulf Games

Qatar’s high jump star Barshim shares gold medal with compatriot at Gulf Games

Kuwait City, Kuwait, May 18, 2022: The star turn at the 3rd GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Games Kuwait 2022, Olympic champion Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, made a brief appearance needing only one jump to win the gold medal in the men’s high jump event on Wednesday night, May 18.

Actually, Barshim shared the gold medal – for the second time in his career – with fellow-Qatari Hamdi Ali, on the orders of Qatar team officials who asked the star athlete to quit the competition after teammate Ali had failed to clear 2.18 metres.

Barshim, 30, was waiting to attempt the next level – 2.18m – but a Qatar athletics team official was seen calling the Tokyo Olympics gold medallist to the side-lines and after a lengthy discussion, Barshim indicated to the stewards that he would not be attempting another jump, resulting in Qatar being awarded two gold medals.

The official result read Barshim and Ali as tied on 2.15m. In third place was Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Abdullah Al-Tarouti, 2.10m, to claim the bronze medal.

“I wanted to jump, but they did not want me to. This is for the team,”

shrugged Barshim afterwards. “I didn’t come all this way to do just one jump, but sometimes you have to do what the team wants.”

It was a far cry from the emotional moments at the Tokyo Olympics when Barshim and Italian Gianmarco Tamberi decided to share the high jump gold medal after clearing 2.37m and with neither able to make 2.39m.

“Can we have two golds?” Barshim famously asked on that occasion. It was not the case last night. Barshim could have easily secured the gold medal only for himself – he could have made 2.18m in his sleep – but team orders had to be followed.

The two-time world champion, who in addition to the Tokyo Olympics gold medal also won silver medals in London 2012 and Rio 2016, approached a sizable crowd, abuzz in the stands, after he had pulled out. In Arabic he apologised: “I’m sorry, I wanted to jump,” he said.

The crowd urged him to do so. Although the competition was over, Barshim played to the gallery and attempted to clear the bar, which had been set at 2.18m. He knocked the bar down to the oohs of the crowd, and walked away with a smile on his face.

“That was deliberate,” laughed a Kuwaiti fan. “We all came to see him in action. We knew he would win. But we did not expect this to happen.”

Barshim more than made up for the under-performance by taking selfies with the adoring fans. He might be a superstar, but he showed he is still down-to-earth.

But last night, the crowd wanted him to soar as high as an eagle. He couldn’t do it because his wings were clipped.