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Barshim, Tamberi set to delight Doha

Barshim, Tamberi set to delight Doha

Vinay Nayudu
Doha
Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi stood out as symbols of sports competitiveness and sporting spirit both at the same time when the two shared gold at the Tokyo Olympics on a memorable day in August last year.
Nine months have passed since that distinguished display of friendship, respect and top-class competition, but the emotion has not diminished. If anything, it has intensified, as the duo turn the page to start the next chapter in their tale of tenacity and solidarity.
The two high jumpers have been friends for long but after their act of sportsmanship they have become all the more synonymous and inseparable.
Now, the two stars will set the stage alight in Doha on Friday when they will compete at the 2022 Wanda Doha Diamond League at the Qatar Sports Club to a packed Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium.
Italian Tamberi has also been training in Doha the last two months here in March and April. Ahead of their showdown the two towering personalities spoke about that magical moment at Olympics and their camaraderie since.
“We already talked about it, it is not going to happen again,” said Tamberi, as the Barshim sitting beside nodded in agreement at the press conference on Thursday.
“We will look at each other (If we are tied again), we will say OK let’s go” to jump off. For myself, I will never go back in the past and change what we have done. We will forever remember as brothers ... friends,” the Italian stressed.
So surely there would be a no sharing the medal repeat. “We both won because we both deserved that gold medal. When they ask us will you share again we say ‘no’ because we have done it once. But it does not mean we are not proud of it. I will never change the past even if you paid me or guaranteed me that I will be the one who wins that gold medal, I will share with him because I know he deserves, I know I deserve.”
Both Barshim and Tamberi have set their targets on World Championships in Eugene, US, later this July. Tamberi has never won a world championship medal, while Barshim is gunning for greatness aiming to become the first athlete to win three straight high jump titles.
“At the 2019 Worlds in Doha, someone asked me how I’d feel defending my world title and becoming the first male high jumper to do so. That stuck with me. Now I’m motivating myself by saying it’ll be even better to be the only guy to win three in a row. It keeps me going. It is not easy to find motivation after such a big year, such a big success,” said Barshim.
The Doha Diamond League will be the Qatari’s first meeting since last August but the 30-year-old has lined up few events before the world championships, including GCC Games in Kuwait next week and Diamond League event in Rome on June 9.
And he will be hoping he can hit the ground running in front of home fans. But it will be difficult to gauge the form of an athlete who hasn’t competed for more than nine months and Barshim hinted that he is not yet at his physical best.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t at home, I probably wouldn’t have jumped. But Doha is home and my people will be out there, my family and friends, cheering for me. That’s always a special feeling. I took my first steps in the sport I love here and it’ll always be special,” he said.
“Normally, people start with small events and move on to tougher events. That way, competing in the Diamond League straightaway may be risky. But I’m experienced and know what to do. Since it’s very early in the season, I may not be able to jump impressive heights. But my focus is different, I want to see where I’m at the moment, set a mark and start working from there,” Barshim added.
Tamberi, meanwhile, after his Olympic gold went on to win the Diamond League title last year and made a last-minute decision to compete at the World Indoor Championships two months ago, leaving Belgrade with a bronze medal.
While Barshim and Tamberi will be striving to deliver their best, world indoor champion Woo Sanghyeok will start as slight favourite given his recent form. The South Korean finished fourth at the Olympics last year, cleared a world-leading 2.36m earlier this year and then won the world indoor title. He opened his outdoor season last month with a 2.30m win in Daegu.
Time to keep raising the bar for the stars! Stage set for 2022 Wanda Doha Diamond League at Qatar Sports Club today  South Korean Woo Sanghyeok also in the mix

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