Why battle for gold when you can split it with a friend?
Athletes Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar chose to share the top honour in the men’s high jump final on Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics.
Both Barshim, 30, and the Tamberi, 29 ended with jumps of 2.37 meters. Neither had any failed attempts.
When the bar was raised to 2.39 meters, the Olympic record, neither jumper could clear it. The competition was tied.
After three failed attempts each at that height, an Olympic official offered them a jump-off to decide the winner.
“Can we have two golds?” Barshim asked him.
“It’s possible. If you both decide…” the official said.
He’d barely finished his sentence before the two men had looked at each other, slapped hands and Tamberi leapt into Barshim’s arms.
Tamberi later collapsed to the ground, overcome with emotion.
When Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi finished the men’s high jump competition tied, they could have gone to a jump-off to decide the winner.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 1, 2021
“I still can’t believe it happened,” Tamberi said afterward, according to the Associated Press. “Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. … It was just magical.”
“For me, coming here, I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold,” Barshim said. “He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold.”
Barshim told AP his rival is one of his best friends.
“Not only on the track but outside of the track,” he said. “We’re always together almost. True spirit, sportsmen spirit, coming here and delivering this message.”
The gold makes a full set for Barshim, who won silver in Rio 2016 and bronze in London 2012.
For Tamberi, it’s is his first Olympic medal, and joins his world indoor and European titles from 2016. His impassioned reaction was understandable, given he had suffered a serious ankle injury weeks before the 2016 Olympics which could potentially have ended his competitive career.