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Mutaz Barshim

High-jumping hero Mutaz Barshim clinched a gold medal for Qatar this week at the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

The 26-year-old Qatari athlete cleared 2.35m to win the finals in London last night.

He beat Russian Danil Lysenko, who took the silver for jumping 2.32m, while Syrian Eddin Ghazal won the bronze with a jump of 2.29m.

However, Barshim was unable to surpass his own record of 2.43m, which he set in 2014 during the World Indoor Athletics Championships.

That jump is the second highest on record, just behind Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m.

According to Reuters, Barshim said:

“My first big world championships gold and I was so determined to win it. I was expecting it tonight so I am glad I managed to fulfill my target.

Let’s say, I was recovering last year. I did not want to put too much pressure on myself, but now I am back in shape and feel I can go even higher. I do not want to retire one day with the feeling that there is still something left.”

Blockbuster year

It’s been a great year for Barshim, who has won all seven competitions he’s participated in over the past eight months.

Barshim also took home Qatar’s first silver Olympic medal in Rio last August.

The athlete will attempt to break his own record when Qatar hosts the next World Championships in two years’ time.

Thoughts?

Qatar Olympics Committee

Mutaz Barshim at the IAAF championships

Olympic medalist Mutaz Barshim has advanced to the high-jump finals at the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

The 26-year-old Qatari easily cleared 2.31m yesterday in London and will compete today against five other athletes who also made the cut.

Barshim has so far won all six competitions he’s participated in this year, but previously said success at the IAAF World is what he’s been working toward.

He will compete at 9:05pm on Sunday night Doha time, according to the IAAF timetable. You should be able to watch it live here.

Hoping to break the record

Barshim currently holds the record for the second best high jumper of all time.

In 2014, he took the gold in the World Indoors Athletics Championships after clearing 2.43m.

He has been trying to beat that record ever since.

He failed to do it at the Rio Olympics in August, but still won Qatar’s first-ever silver medal after jumping 2.36m.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Ahmed Badir will also compete in a final today, for the javelin throw.

QOC/Twitter

Qatar’s javelin thrower Ahmed Badir

That will take place at 10:15pm, Doha time.

Thoughts?

Neymar/Facebook

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

It’s official: Brazilian football star Neymar is leaving FC Barcelona for Qatar-backed Paris St. Germain (PSG).

The 25-year-old signed a five-year deal through June 2022 with the French club yesterday.

Before doing so, his lawyers paid a buyout clause fee of €222 million (QR966 million) to his former team.

That makes the deal the most expensive transfer in football history.

Signing Neymar is being seen as a big win for Qatar, which is embroiled in a months-long dispute with its neighbors.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Gulf expert Christopher Davidson said:

“This signing can demonstrate that Qatar is still viable, still able to have international influence and still able to be serious player in international soccer.”

Winning

But the transfer isn’t without obstacles. There are concerns that PSG is over-stepping UEFA rules about spending more than it earns.

The organization, which governs European football, will be looking into the financial implications in the coming years.

But in the meantime, Neymar and PSG said they are just focusing on the game of football and winning tournaments.

In a statement, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said:

“It is with immense joy and pride that we welcome Neymar Jr. to Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar Jr. is today one of the very best players in world football. His winning mentality, strength of character and sense of leadership have made him into a great player. He will bring a very positive energy to this club.”

And in his farewell speech to Barca fans this week, Neymar explained that it was time to move on and seek “new challenges.”

According to ESPN, he said:

“I accepted PSG’s proposition to try new achievements and help the club to win the titles that their crowd wants. They showed me a daring career plan and I feel ready to take on this challenge.”

Thoughts?