Yohan Blake and Akani Simbine for the sprint (100m and 4x100m relay) and Ukrainian Yuliya Levchenko in the high jump defended their respective places by finishing in the top 5. Two other partners, Nafi Thiam and Mutaz Essa Barshim distinguished themselves by stepping on the podium.
There are moments in an athlete’s life when it’s now or never. In the split second when he looks up at the Doha sky, Mutaz Essa Barshim alone knows what’s going through his mind. A lifetime in the space of a heartbeat. Silence. Then the home crowd starts to chant his name—‘Mutaz! Mutaz!’ Suddenly, the little boy from Doha becomes the man who reached for Gold, clearing 2.37m. This life-changing performance was anything but guaranteed after what has uncontestably been a difficult period. Mutaz’s pre-Doha personal best this year was 2.27m. Add to this the multiple injuries he has sustained and emergency ankle surgery in 2018—victory was by no means obvious. As he leapt into the sky, however, he cast all worries to the sand below. Mutaz jumped into the record books as one of Qatar’s most successful athletes of all time. Winning this medal, in that place, was quite simply the biggest achievement of his career…
‘It means a lot to me, I’m so happy to win at home, said Mutaz after his victory. I really wanted to do it for all the people who came to encourage me. I wasn’t 100% ready, but it was my compatriots who allowed me to enhance my performances. I really felt the energy of the crowd. Thanks to all this, I forgot everything, my injury, my previous competitions. I didn’t think about tactics or technique, I just had to go for it, to survive. I do what I love the most, the best way I can.’
Mutaz wasn’t the only member of the Richard Mille family to stand on the podium. After her recordbreaking gold-winning series from Rio to Berlin, via London, the great champion, Nafi Thiam, took silver in the heptathlon.
‘I’m delighted, I have put in lots of effort all year. I did my utmost, and my silver has the taste of all the sacrifices, the work and problems (notably elbow issues in the javelin throw) of a difficult year, and I couldn’t be more proud!’
Thanks to their performances, these champions place themselves at the top of world athletics for the greatest pride of the brand, which renews their friendship and trust.