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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Qatar hero Mutaz qualifies for the final in style

I'm back, baby, says high jump champion after a smooth performance in the qualifying round.
Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim During The Qualification Round Of The Men's High Jump
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim during the qualification round of the men’s high jump. Photo: mutaz.barshim@instagram

Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim and hammer thrower Ashraf Amjad El Saify qualified for the finals on the fifth day of the IAAF World Championships.

Defending champion Mutaz, who is back after being out for almost a year with an injury, cleared his season’s best of 2.29M to sail into Friday’s final. Meanwhile, Ashraf progressed to Wednesday’s final as the 12th best thrower with a 76.22M heave.

Mutaz, playing to the gallery, had the crowd eating out of his palm. They roared their approval each time he cleared the bar at 2.17M, 2.22M, 2.26M and 2.29M, all on his first attempt.

Later, he was a picture of confidence and displayed the attitude of a champion.

“I’m back, baby,” he shouted to the waiting media men.

“My target was the final, and I’m there, so no complaints. For me, the build-up doesn’t matter because I’m here. Hopefully, I can come back Friday and do my best in front of a packed stadium,” he told Inside Qatar.

The 28-year-old said he would be targeting the top of the podium in the final.

“This is the World Championships. It doesn’t matter if I jumped 2.50M or 2.10M, I want to get to the podium and hope for gold,” he said.

Authorised Neutral Athletes Ilya Ivanyuk and Mikhail Akimenko were the only other jumpers to clear 2.29M on their first attempts.

Ashraf, who began his qualification campaign with a 72.38M throw, improved it by almost 4M in the next (76.22). That proved to be the magic number after the defending Asian Games champion fouled his third attempt.

Apart from the duo, other Qatari athletes had a forgettable evening.

Double Asian Games gold medallist Abdalelah Haroun ran a season’s best time of 47.67sec in the men’s 400M but could finish only sixth in the first heat. The 22-year-old, a bronze medallist over the distance at the ’17 London Worlds, had suffered a hamstring injury in the build-up to the competition.

Qatar’s challenge in men’s 3,000M steeplechase ended when Yaser Salem Bagharab crashed out, clocking 8min 39.65sec run. He was 14th out of 15 runners.

Mariam Farid finished seventh in the first heat of the women’s 400M hurdles. She however set a new personal best of 1min 09.49sec.

“My coach is happy because I achieved the target she set for me, which was a personal best. My family and friends were here to cheer for me, and it was a very emotional experience,” she said.