03 April, 2018

Eugene: High Jump King Barshim Returns to The Pre Classic

  • Mutaz Essa Barshim © Kirby Lee

Reigning World Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar will bring his high-flying act back to Hayward Field to challenge a world-class field of high jumpers at the 2018 Prefontaine Classic.

Barshim, owner of the Hayward Field and Prefontaine Classic records, arrives as the reigning male athlete of the year as selected  by both the IAAF and Track & Field News after going undefeated in 2017. In a bid for a 3rd Pre Classic title, he’ll face the man who just beat him for the World Indoor title in March (Danil Lysenko) and the America’s most successful jumper of the last decade (Erik Kynard).

At age 26, Barshim, has dominated his event like few others.  His three IAAF Diamond League trophies are two more than anyone else has in this event, and his third-straight No. 1 world ranking by T&FN last year made him a rare 3-peater and the first since world record holder Javier Sotomayor completed four in a row in 1995.

The comparison to Sotomayor – history’s only 8-footer at 8-0½ (2.45) in 1993 – comes often for Barshim.  With a best of 7-11½ (2.43), Barshim has come the closest to joining the 8-foot (2.44) club. He also shares the record for the highest jump ever on U.S. soil, a 7-11¼ (2.42) made in New York City in ’14.

Barshim is Qatar’s most successful athlete for a nation set to host next year’s IAAF World Championships.

Danil Lysenko won the World Indoor title last month, becoming the first to defeat Barshim since 2016.  Just 20, he also won silver at last year’s World Championships as a 19-year-old.  Way back in 2014 he won the Youth Olympic Games for Russia in Beijing as a 17-year-old, just after his only Hayward Field appearance at the World Junior Championships.

Erik Kynard, 27, is the leading American entry and the 2016 Diamond League winner.  The 2012 Olympic silver medalist has earned a U.S. team berth in every trials since 2008, when he was 16.  Kynard, an Ohio native who twice won NCAA titles at Kansas State, is a 9-time U.S. champ and last month missed repeating as a second World Indoor Championships medalist only on misses.

Germany’s Mateusz Przybylko, 26, claimed his first major medal with a bronze last month in England at the World Indoor.  Last summer, Przybylko found an incredible streak and PRed three times in one day.  Six weeks later he joined another side of the wild world of high jumping, leaping just as high as the bronze medalist (7-6 / 2.29) but not as high as he did just to reach the final (7-7 / 2.31).

Great Britain’s Robbie Grabarz, 30, earned Olympic bronze in 2012 and added silver at the 2016 World Indoor in Portland.  He won the 2012 Diamond Trophy.

Jeron Robinson, 26, of the U.S., cleared a world-leading outdoor mark of 7-7/2.31 at the Texas Relays this past weekend, tying the lifetime best he set in winning his third NCAA Division II title for Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2015.

The remaining two spots will be filled by the athletes jumping the best outdoors in the coming weeks.

Men’s High JumpPersonal Best
Mutaz Essa BarshimQatar7-11½2.43m
Danil LysenkoANA7-9¾2.38m
Robbie GrabarzGreat Britain7-9¼2.37m
Erik KynardUSA7-9¼2.37m
Mateusz PrzybylkoGermany7-8½2.35m
Jeron RobinsonUSA7-72.31m