Mutaz Essa Barshim is one of track and field's leading superstars. The Qatari high jumper offers his words of wisdom.
1. Patience is key
“You will not always be on top in track and field. Any athlete will face injuries and other setbacks, so it is important to stay patient no matter what happens.
“Through my injuries and having a sore back I have always told myself to be patient and that everything will come. Everything that happens is for a reason.
“I tell myself [that] everyday brings a new hope. I take every day as it comes.”
Barshim won world junior gold back in 2010. He has since picked up senior world champs bronze, Olympic silver and world indoor gold.
2. Smart work, not hard work
“I have learned that training is not necessarily about hard work, but smart work. I got injured in 2011 when I was working really hard. Yet, I later discovered I needed to listen to my body and work smarter.
“Working hard is really easy, but that is not the way to allow your body to recover. If your coach tells you to run ten times, for example, and after eight reps you feel a little bit of cramp, then it is better to stop than to carry on and lose a couple of months through injury. During a gym session it is not always about always about lifting 60kg four times – it can sometimes be better lifting 50kg five times.
“When I was younger I thought to train harder was better. I used to train so hard. In 2012 I was training so hard and I jumped 2.39m, yet in 2013 I trained much less and jumped 2.40m.
“Training hard can kill you and destroy you. You need to train smart.”
A 2.43m clearance at the Brussels Diamond League made Barshim the second highest jumper of all time
3. Prepare mentally
“Most athletes train physically, but it is also important to link mind and body to prepare mentally. This is something that can developed individually.
“Some people prepare by rhythm and routine, some people by music, and some people by video. You have to find your own way to focus mentally because you know you have to connect your mind and prepare for competition.
“I prepare myself by relaxing, laying down and watching cartoons. A few hours before a competition I like to be alone. It helps me to focus.”