LONDON, 08 August, 2012- Qatar yesterday celebrated its best ever Olympic Games haul as promising athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim finished with a bronze medal in the men's high jump final at the Olympic Stadium.
It was the second bronze in London after Qatari shooter Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah last Tuesday finished in third spot in the men's skeet final at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
It was Qatar's fourth bronze in Olympic Games history.
Qatar's Mohamed Suleiman won a medal in the men's athletics 1500m in 1992 (Barcelona) and weightlifter Saif Assad picked up a medal at the Sydney Games in 2000.
"I am so happy that I have won an Olympics medal," Barshim said. "I have worked so hard for this. It was really tough competition,"
Barshim, who jumped 2.37m in February this year at the Asian indoor championships in Hangzhou, added.
The Qatari dedicated the medal to the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Heir Apparent, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Barshim, 21, produced a slick performance in the first three rounds of the high jump final, clearing 2.20, 2.25 and 2.29 with ease.
However, Barshim couldn't clear the bar raised to 2.33 and had to settle for a bronze.
Russia's Ivan Ukhov won gold followed by America's Erik Kynard who took silver. The long-haired 26-year-old, this year's top jumper, secured victory with a leap of 2.38 metres he cleared on the sixth attempt.
Ukhov's win was remarkable since he does not use heel spikes in his shoes and finds it difficult to compete in damp conditions.
Canada's Derek Drouin and Britain's Robbie Grabarz tied with Barshim to complete a rare set of high jumpers winning a bronze medal each.
Russia's 2008 Olympic champion Andrey Silnov and American world champion Jesse Williams crashed out at 2.29 metres, well below their season's bests of 2.37 and 2.36 respectively.
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrehman Al Thani, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said: "This win is dedicated to the Emir and the Heir Apparent. They have laid great emphasis on sports for years and we see the positive results now. Mutaz did extremely well tonight. I congratulate the athletics officials who have been working hard to get the athletes in good shape."
After securing the bronze, Barshim did a lap of honour with the Qatar national flag as did the other medallists and won warm applause from a packed house at the Olympic Stadium.
Essa, in all-maroon outfit, started with an easy jump of 2.20 in the first round of the final watched by 80,000 fans. After successfully crossing the first hurdle, Essa waved to the fans in acknowledgement.
Thirteen of the 14 jumpers cleared the first round barring Ukrain'es Bohdan Bondrenko who required a second attempt to clear the bar.
The Qatari cleared the second jump set at 2.25, again with a sublime effort. However, Silonov and Kynard flopped on their first attempts but went clear on the next try. Kyriakos Ioannou of Cyprus and Mickael Hanany of France got knocked out of the final after failing to clear 2.25.
Essa swiftly crossed the third hurdle set at 2.29 in his first attempt. Kynard and Drouin were the only two athletes to step up and clear the hurdle in first attempts. However, Silnov, Protsenko, Williams and Miller signed out of the final after failing in all three attempts.
The Qatari, however, failed to cross 2.33 in all his three attempts in the fourth round as did Drouin, Bondrenko and Mason.
Williams of the US, who finished in 11th spot, said: "I'm in unbelievable shape. I thought I could easily make that bar (2.29m) I can't keep kicking myself and beating myself up. I am a much better jumper than that, I have high expectations. I just wasn't using my body's power."
He added: "I couldn't believe it and I still can't, it hurts. My first couple of jumps were good. I've got a lot to think about but my family and friends love me."
Khalifa Abdul Malik, Qatar athletics chief at the London Games, said: "We are thrilled with this performance. I said earlier he would do well because he is a promising athlete. With a bit of luck, he could have done even better. But we are more than happy."
After winning the silver, Kynard said: "My first Olympics means a lot to me. I would love to have brought home a gold. I've got a long way to go. My nerves were fine, I just sat there being cool, calm and collected to keep my composure."
When the medals are presented today, all three bronze medallists will stand on an rather crowded lower step of the medal podium at the victory ceremony, an occurrence that has only happened three times before in athletics at the Games.