I learned a big lesson from Ian Stewart a few decades ago when Alan Pascoe, Jon Ridgeon, and Ian Stewart managed events for UK Athletics from Fast Track. Ian always told me that for a meet to be successful, you had to have local heroes and promote the heck out of them with the local media. At the UK athletic meetings, they would always feature current British stars, along with global stars and British and American up and comers.
The Doha Diamond League meeting gets that, as they announced Mutaz Essa Barshim, Olympic gold medalist in the high jump (along with Gianmarco Tamberi), and Abderrahman Samba, two of the most popular athletes in Qatar.
The high jump and the 400-meter hurdles were among the many events that will make the global track audience go crazy for the 2023 Diamond League meeting in Doha!
Barshim, also a two-time Olympic silver medallist (2012 and 2016), shared one of the greatest sporting moments of all time when he was crowned joint Olympic champion with his long-time friend and rival Gianmarco Tamberi in Tokyo 2021.
After a low-key build-up to summer 2022, he proved he is a true championship performer, winning an unprecedented third successive global title with a victory in Eugene, clearing a world-leading height of 2.37m.
“Whenever I step on the track, I always want to give my best; that has been the case since my first Diamond League appearance back in Doha 2011,” said Barshim, the Qatari national record holder with a best of 2.43m, the second highest jump of all time.
“High jump is my passion, and I want to make sure that my name is mentioned whenever high jump is mentioned. I’ve made history by being on top of my game for the past decade, but I still strive for more. The 2023 season is about to begin, and I have set my own goals and targets to chase. The World Championships in Budapest and the Asian Games in China are my top targets for the season.
“It’s important that I prioritize my health and stay consistent with a routine that works for me. My training in Qatar went smoothly over the winter, and I look forward to my Wanda Diamond League season-opener in Doha.”
In the 400mH, an event that is increasingly making headlines thanks to Norway’s charismatic world record holder Karsten Warholm, Samba is the Qatari national record holder with a best of 46.98, the fifth-fastest time ever.
A world bronze medallist in 2019, the Olympic fifth-place finisher was unable to compete in 2022 after injuring his hamstring during warm-up for the Doha event in May. Following surgery and a lengthy period of rehabilitation, he has trained well over the winter under the guidance of his new coach, Massimo Matrone, and is looking forward to his first Wanda Diamond League competition for almost 12 months.
“The Doha Meeting will be my first major competition since Tokyo 2021 and will provide a good starting point as I build towards the World Championships this summer,” he said. “I was in good shape this time last year, and I was disappointed to miss out on the World Championships, but I’ve had a consistent block of training, and I’m healthy and ready to race. The 400mH is one of the most exciting events on the program right now, and I want to be back in the mix.”
The 2023 Wanda Diamond League comprises 14 meetings in total*, starting with Doha at the Qatar Sports Club on 5 May and concluding with a single final across two days in Eugene (16-17 September). Each of the 13 series of meetings will be broadcast globally in a live two-hour program.
*In an update to the 2023 calendar, the Shanghai meeting scheduled for July will no longer take place.
To learn more about the Doha Diamond League, check out https://doha.diamondleague.com/home/