World Championships: Barshim, Tamberi set for another face-off

QNA
2022-07-12 | Since 1 Month

Mutaz Barshim

Doha, 12 July 2022 - Having created one of the enduringly beautiful Olympic memories by agreeing to share the men’s high jump title at last year’s Olympic Games, friends and rivals Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy have, struggled to maintain that dazzling intensity in the post-Olympic season.

Both men know what it is like to suffer potentially career-ending injury. For Tamberi, now 30, that blow landed at the 2016 Monaco Diamond League meeting, his last competition before the Rio 2016 Olympics, when, after setting a national record of 2.39m, he tore a ligament in his left ankle while making a third attempt at 2.41m.

He required immediate surgery before becoming a disconsolate spectator at the Games, and it took him several years to regain his full form and fitness.

In 2018 Barshim suffered almost exactly the same injury, also requiring surgery, a year out from the World Championships in his home city of Doha.

Incredibly, Barshim – whose 2014 clearance of 2.43m in Brussels puts him second on the world all-time list behind Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor, world record holder since 1993 on 2.45m – recovered to win his first global gold in front of his adoring fans a year later.

That performance, Tamberi has subsequently revealed, proved of huge importance in his efforts to get over the fear of injuring himself again when he jumped, something which afflicted him for at least two years after his return to competition in 2017.

This year Barshim, 31, has pursued an unsurprisingly conservative course, giving the indoor season a miss before clearing a highly creditable 2.30m in his first big event, the Doha Diamond League.

Tamberi, meanwhile has thrown himself back into competition, securing a world indoor bronze in a highly competitive final in Belgrade with a clearance of 2.31m and jumping 2.30m at the Doha meeting, where he took second place.

All the usual showman’s elements are still present in the Italian’s performances – he has even returned to the old format of shaving off half his beard before competition.

But while the Olympic co-champions have remained in the centre of most spectators’ consciousness as far as the event is concerned, others have taken a significant step up in terms of their performances this year – and no one more so that South Korea’s Woo Sanghyeok, who cleared a national record of 2.35m at the Olympic Games but missed the podium by one place.

Woo has been the outstanding men’s high jumper so far this year, setting a personal best of 2.36m indoors in Hustopece in February before winning the world indoor title in Belgrade with 2.34m ahead of Switzerland’s surprise silver medallist Loic Gasch, who jumped 2.31m.

Woo followed that up by beating the two Olympic champions at the Doha Diamond League meeting, winning with a clearance of 2.33m.

Now he looks ready to earn his first global outdoor medal and he will want it to be golden.

Home jumpers Shelby McEwen and JuVaughn Harrison, who occupied the top two spots at the US Championships with 2.33m and 2.30m respectively, have also shown potential to make it on to the podium in Eugene.

Also in the mix will be New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr, who jumped 2.31m to share world indoor bronze with Tamberi in Belgrade and is now joint fourth on this season’s outdoor list on 2.30m. 

Germany’s banner is likely to be carried by 2018 world indoor bronze medallist Mateusz Przbylko and Tobias Potye, who have also jumped 2.30m outdoors this season, while Canada will look to Django Lovett, who has cleared 2.28m this year.


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