Posted on August 18, 2016

Qatar’s high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim made history on Tuesday evening as he became the first ever athlete from Qatar to claim a silver medal at an Olympic Games. The 25 year old from Doha cleared 2.36 metres, but was pipped to gold by Canada’s Derek Drouin who jumped a season best 2.38 metres in a closely contested high jump final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko took the bronze medal clearing a height of 2.33 metres.

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The London 2012 bronze medallist has written himself into the record books once again following his 2014 World Indoor silver medal and achieving the second highest jump in history with 2.43m,also in 2014. A fierce competitor, Barshim had his eyes on the gold medal and is already thinking about the next steps on his historic sporting journey. Speaking after his competition, he said: “We aimed for the gold and we will always aspire to achieve that. I’m very thankful for the silver medal and will aim to win gold in Tokyo 2020.  It was a difficult final – every technical error made a difference, plus there were 15 athletes in the final which is quite a large number. I have a lot to be thankful for during my sporting journey – I’ve set a world record, I’ve won Olympic medals but the most important thing is to set a plan with the coach and work towards it. The world record and the Olympic gold medal are both goals for me.”

15 competitors entered the Olympic high jump final and by 2.33m 10 of the field were still in the contest. However, by 2.36m only Barshim, Bondarenko and Drouin remained. Bondarenko chose to pass at this height whilst Barshim and Drouin cleared easily with their first attempts. The bar then moved to 2.38m and Drouin cleared first time. Barshim had three valiant attempts at the height but couldn’t quite clear the bar, leaving the ball in Bondarenko’s court. With two failures at the same height, Bondarenko chose to gamble and attempt 2.40m but the gamble didn’t pay off meaning Bondarenko settled for bronze and Barshim moved into second place and claimed a historic silver medal for Qatar.

Speaking about Barshim’s momentous achievement, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee, Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani, said: “On behalf of the whole Qatar Olympic Committee, we pass our huge congratulations to Mutaz Barshim for becoming Qatar's first ever Olympic silver medallist. This is the biggest achievement in Qatar's Olympic history and we are so proud of him. We know that he will have inspired a new generation of sporting heroes and connected new audiences to Olympic sport. Qatar has made huge progress on the sporting field over recent years and I would like to pass my thanks to H.H. The Amir of Qatar for all his efforts and dedication to developing sport in Qatar.”

H.H. The Amir of Qatar was the first person to call Mutaz Barshim following his silver medal winning performance and Mutaz Barshim dedicated his medal to His Highness. A graduate of the world-renowned Aspire Academy for Sporting Excellence, Mutaz Barshim is a true product of Qatar’s sporting infrastructure and shows the progress that Qatar continues to make on the sporting field. Further Aspire Academy graduates will compete in the Olympic Games this week with double World Junior Champion Ashraf Elseify going in the hammer throw qualification round on Wednesday at 15:40 Doha time and javelin thrower Ahmed Bader going in the javelin qualification round at 2:30am on Thursday morning.

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Additional Team Qatar success on Tuesday came from Sheikh Ali Al Thani, Ali Rumaihi and Bassem Hamad who all qualified for the third round of the individual show jumping event, which takes place on Wednesday from 16:00. The show jumping team narrowly missed out on a spot in the team final after finishing ninth in round 2, with only eight progressing but still made history by becoming Qatar’s first ever show jumping team to compete in an Olympic Games.

All eyes will also be on the Qatar Handball team on Wednesday when they face Germany in the quarter finals at 19:30 Doha time and will be looking to make further history for Team Qatar at Rio 2016.