High Jumpers' Unusual Request Is an Olympic Hit

Competitors from Qatar and Italy decide to share gold medal rather than go to a jump-off
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2021 1:12 PM CDT
High Jumpers' Unusual Request Is an Olympic Hit
Gianmarco Tamberi, of Italy, left, and Mutaz Barshim, of Qatar, celebrate after they won joint gold in the final of the men's high jump at the 2020 Summer Olympics Sunday.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

It’s the ultimate moment in game recognizing game. Mutaz Barshim of Qatar had been competing against, and making friends with, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi for years. Both had suffered ankle injuries that took a season away from them. Tamberi was in Barshim’s wedding, the Washington Post reports. Sunday, the two faced each other at the Tokyo Olympic Games, competing in the high jump. And they cleared bar after bar together, tied, until neither could break the world record of 2.39 meters. Barshim jumped with super cool shades; Tamberi symbolically placed the cast from the injury that ended his chances in the 2016 Games on the track. Exhausted and facing the prospect of a jump-off, Barshim asked, “Can we have two golds?”

An official agreed it was possible, and in an instant, the friends were congratulating each other. Barshim offered a handshake and an embrace, and the more exuberant Tamberi leapt into his arms, then ran around the track blowing kisses in celebration, the Guardian reports. (Watch the celebration here.) If their long rivalry and friendship wasn’t a lesson in sportsmanship, their moment of sharing the win was. “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.” A post at Al Jazeera notes that social media loved the decision, which is described in the headline as the "best moment of Tokyo 2020." (More 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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