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Qatari star ready to help African high jumpers

IN ZURICH

All is not lost for African high jumpers who are struggling to reach their full potential due to lack of facilities and technical support.

The 2017 World Championships high jump gold medallist Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar has said plans are at an advanced stage to establish Youth Training Camps in Africa to tap and nurture talent.

Speaking during a press conference ahead of the Zurich Diamond League on Thursday, the Qatari said he wants to work closely with local athletics associations to establish centres in a number of countries across the continent.

“I am working on a project to come down in Africa and give help to different talents. I am looking at technical support, facilities and general mentor-ship that will be of great benefit in future.

“I don’t know if it will happen this year or beginning of next year but I assure you it will happen before the2019 Worlds. We are already halfway,” said Barshim.

The move is set to be of great benefit to local talent especially Mathew Sawe, who became the first Kenyan to win gold (2.21m) in high jump during the 2016 Africa Championships in Durban, South Africa.

During that event, Sawe disappointed the home crowd by outclassing homeboy and favourite Fourie Keagan, who took silver in 2.18m.

Despite an impressive performance, the athlete has been struggling to improve on his personal best majorly due to lack of facilities and technical support in the country.

Barshim struggled in the rain to improve on his season best of 2.40m set in Birmingham last week in Zurich but still won with a clearance of 2.36m on his third attempt, some distance back from Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m set in 1993.

World champion Emma Coburn of the United States was fourth in 9min 14.81sec.

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