Mutaz means proud in Arabic. And Qatar has every reason to be proud of its native son, Mutaz Essa Barshim, who is now acknowledged to be one of today’s greatest athletes, the crown prince of the high jump.
Mutaz returned from the London games in 2012 with a bronze medal around his neck. Olympic achievement has always been the dream of this slender young man, who enjoys nothing better than flirting with bars placed 2.40 metres or more above the ground. His silver at Rio placed the bar high. In 2014, he won the indoor world championship title at Sopot, in Poland, besting his own performance the following September during the Van Damme Memorial at the Roi Baudouin de Bruxelles stadium in Belgium. Mutaz Essa Barshim claimed the spotlight with the year’s best performance, setting a new record for Asia. Clearing 2.43 metres, his jump put him almost on par with legendary Javier Sotomayor, the Cuban and his 1993 world record for the High Jump of 2.45 meters.
It was during the Rio 2016 Olympics that Mutaz met Richard Mille, who had been following the competition closely. This was the moment when the RM 67-02 was conceived.
‘Mutaz Essa Barshim is one of the greatest athletes of all time. He clears the bar with such ease, you might think he was dancing in the air, like a bird. It is precisely this synthesis of elegance and performance that drew me to him.’
‘We talked specifically about something extremely light and flexible, very flat, something that would not distract me from concentrating during my jumps. It has given me so much support during the challenges I faced in reaching the World Championships and other big venues across the globe. I expect it to feel like part of my body, part of my skin, part of me. My discipline requires the ultimate from me physically : I need to be light in weight yet extremely accurate with every step I make, just like every ‘tick’ of my watch. My body is the only ‘tool’ I have in my sport; I don’t use a club or racquet or other external aids. What I do is very ‘pure’, it’s just me up against the challenge. I want my watch to be similar: very pure, very accurate, very perfect, yet as light as possible, and totally reliable, without question.’
Mutaz Essa Barshim
From Qatar, his track and field accomplishments have broken records both at home and aboard. He has an unusual technique – jumping off his left foot, using the Fosbury Flop involving a backwards arch over the bar. This makes him not only a joy to watch but also a technical perfectionist. No wonder that in 2017, after his Gold at the World Championships in London he was named Male World Athlete of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards. In 2019, The Qatari cleared 2.37m to win the world title in Doha, in front of his home crowd a year after injuring his ankle.
‘Time is a very big thing in my profession as a high jumper, because only a few hundredths of a second in timing and approach can make a huge difference between a good, bad or fantastic jump. That’s not everything, though, it’s also about pace as you get closer to the bar.’
Mutaz Essa Barshim