Barshim very special, says Polish mentor Szczyrba

Barshim very special, says Polish mentor Szczyrba
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Published September 13th, 2017 - 07:11 GMT via

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Mutaz Essa Barshim and his coach Stanislaw Szczyrba (Photo: Qatar Tribune)
Mutaz Essa Barshim and his coach Stanislaw Szczyrba (Photo: Qatar Tribune)

Only a few people, besides members of his family and probably close friends, can boast of knowing Mutaz Essa Barshim more than Stanislaw 'Stanley' Szczyrba, the Polish coach who has been handling the superstar for close to a decade now.

Speaking about his ward, the 71-year-old soft-spoken trainer was full of accolades for the Qatari jumper who held the world spellbound on the evening of August 13 before besting the field to grab the gold with a 2.35m jump.
"I've always known Mutaz to be special and I'm not surprised with all the successes he has achieved in his career. He is someone who is passionate, daring and ready to go the extra mile to give the extra touch needed to achieve success," he said.

Speaking about how he came to be Barshim's coach, Szczyrba, who was formerly based in Sweden, said,"Not many people know that I didn't come to Qatar primarily for Mutaz's sake. I was actually invited initially because of Rashid Ahmed al Mannai. So the initial target was Rashid and not Mutaz.

"Mutaz was just one of the kids around then. I guess he was may be 18-year-old or something and I think he was jumping 2.14m. A lot of people were coming to me then, bringing many young athletes and telling me how good they were but I wasn't impressed with what I saw."

"When I first met Mutaz, I noticed that he had passion for the sport and he was very ambitious. He wants to get to the top but his body movement at that time was the problem. I was easily attracted to him because of his passion. I thereafter started teaching him on body control and I observed that he was a very fast learner."

The coach added that the first test he put Barshim through was what finally convinced him to decide to stay in Doha and take up the responsibility of training him.

"After three months of training, I tested him and it was a really difficult test. I asked him to jump and touch a very high roof. Surprisingly, he didn't hesitate before jumping and he touched it. My jaw literally dropped as I watched him do what I thought it was impossible. There and then, I decided that I was going to stay in Doha because of him. I've been a coach most of my life but passing that test really shocked me," he added.

Szczyrba also minced no words when he said that the world has not seen the best of Barshim yet.

"Mutaz is only 26 and I believe he hasn't peaked yet. The best age for high jumpers is 28, 29 and 30 years. I believe the best hasn't come yet for him as he is on the way to achieve something greater."

By Victor Bolorunduro

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