Friday , September 17 2021

Tokyo Olympics: High jump buddies choose to split gold medal rather than face off at dam



The Italian high jumper jumped into his opponent’s arms, then fell belly-down on the hard track, rolled over several times and screamed.

Gianmarco Tamberi was also just warming up.

You don’t bind your good friend for gold every day.

Qatar’s Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim agreed to a draw at the Tokyo Games on Sunday in a competition that resulted in a subtle nod rather than clearing the highest altitude.

Definitely fly to Tamberi for the degree of difficulty in the celebrations. That’s not even counting all the hugs and kisses he’s given or all the people he’s jumped into his arms.

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He was so excited. It was such a crazy ending.

“I still can’t believe this happened,” Tamberi said. “It’s even nicer to share with a friend. … It was just magical.”

The moment when Gianmarco Tamberi (Left) of Team Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Team Qatar agreed to share the Olympic Games high jump gold medal.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The moment when Gianmarco Tamberi (Left) of Team Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Team Qatar agreed to share the Olympic Games high jump gold medal.

Athletes meeting with track officials were given the option to settle the tie with a jump-off.

Barshim had a better idea: How about two golds?

The official said it was possible.

Barshim nodded and Tamber immediately accepted, slapping Barshim’s hand and jumping into his arms. He would be far from his last celebration.

“Coming here for me, I know I deserved that gold for the performance I did. He did the same, so I know he deserved that gold.”

It also emphasized sportsmanship—or so they hope. It also adds to Barshim’s collection of Olympic medals, pairing nicely with silver at Rio and another medal at the 2012 London Games.

“This is beyond sport,” Barshim said. “This is the message we give to the younger generations”

Both high jumpers were excellent until the bar was set to the Olympic record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). Each missed three times.

Qatar's Mutaz Barshim (left) and Italian Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after choosing to share the gold medal in the Olympic Games high jump.

Christian Petersen/AP

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim (left) and Italian Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after choosing to share the gold medal in the Olympic Games high jump.

Funny, they actually talked about this kind of situation before. Not very detailed though.

“We just said, ‘Imagine.’ It happened today,” Barshim said.

A few minutes later, when Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs surprisingly won the 100m, it was Tamberi who greeted him. Rather than greeting him, celebrate by jumping into the runner’s arms and wrapping your own arm around Jacobs’ bald head.

“I was a stasis. My heart was bursting,” Tamberi said. “I was full of emotions and yelled at him before he got on the blocks and supported him. I’m the captain of the national team, so I wanted to do something.”

Team Italy high jump gold medalist Gianmarco Tamberi wears the shell of an old roster that reads 'Road to Tokyo 2020, 2021'.

David Ramos/Getty Images

Team Italy high jump gold medalist Gianmarco Tamberi wears the shell of an old roster that reads ‘Road to Tokyo 2020, 2021’.

Tamberi has been in a cast for five years – a reminder of her broken ankle just before Rio. He was also in his best form, which forced him to watch the Rio Games. He wrote “Road to Tokyo 2020” on it when it came out. Then, after the pandemic caused a delay, it passed 2020 and wrote “2021” in red.

“I said to myself that day, ‘I want to go back to Tokyo and fight for the gold medal,'” Tamberi said.

They had all kinds of fun during a competition where Belarusian Maksim Nedasekau won the bronze medal. Tamberi fired an imaginary jump shot after crossing a height.

swish.

Gold medalist Mutaz Barshim from Qatar celebrates on the track.

Cameron Spencer/AP

Gold medalist Mutaz Barshim from Qatar celebrates on the track.

Barshim was the epitome of the coolness in the shadows that continued to fall after their jump. Once, he even knocked them out after a successful jump.

They broke.

“I have 50 pairs on hand,” Barshim said.

Now, a gold.

Another one for his friend.

“He’s one of my best friends. Not just on the track, but off the track as well.” Barshim said.

“I appreciate what he does, he appreciates what I do. It’s incredible.”


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