Settled: High-jump friends elect double gold over jump-off in Tokyo Games

Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar agreed to the tie Sunday at the Tokyo Games in a competition settled not by clearing the top height but through a subtle nod.

Published: 02nd August 2021 10:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd August 2021 10:59 AM   |  A+A-

Gianmarco Tamberi, of Italy, celebrates after winning the men's high jump final at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Photo | AP)


TOKYO: The Italian high jumper leaped into his rival's arms, then belly-flopped onto the hard track, rolled around a few times and screamed.

Gianmarco Tamberi was just getting warmed up, too.

It's not every day you tie your good friend for gold.

Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar agreed to the tie Sunday at the Tokyo Games in a competition settled not by clearing the top height but through a subtle nod.

Edge definitely to Tamberi, though, for the degree of difficulty in celebrations.

That's not even counting all the hugs and kisses he delivered, or all of the people he jumped into the arms of.

He was just that excited.

This was that crazy of an ending.

"I still can't believe it happened," Tamberi said.

"Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. It was just magical."

In a huddle with track officials, the athletes were given the option to settle the tie with a jump-off.

Barshim had a better idea: How about two golds? The official said that was possible.

Barshim nodded and Tamberi instantly accepted, slapping Barshim's hand and jumping into his arms.

It would be far from his last celebration.

"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.

It stressed sportsmanship, too, or so they hope.

It also adds to Barshim's Olympic medal collection, pairing nicely with silver in Rio and another medal at the 2012 London Games.

"This is beyond sport," Barshim said.

"This is the message we deliver to the young generation."

Both high jumpers were perfect until the bar was set to the Olympic-record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches).

Each missed three times.

Funny, they actually talked about this sort of situation before.

Not in great detail, though.

"We just said, Imagine,'" Barshim recalled.

"Today, it happened."

When Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs surprisingly won the 100 meters a few minutes later, there was Tamberi to greet him.

Not so much as greet him as celebrate by jumping into the sprinter's arms and curling his own arm around Jacobs' bald head.

"I was in ecstasy. My heart was exploding," Tamberi said.

"I was just full of emotions and I just screamed at him before he got in the blocks and I just supported him. I'm the captain of the national team so I just felt to do something."

Tamberi has kept a cast for five years, a reminder of his broken ankle just before Rio.

He was in his best shape, too, which forced him to watch the Rio Games.

When it came off, he wrote on it "Road to Tokyo 2020."

Then, he crossed out 2020 after the pandemic led to a postponement and wrote in red, "2021."

"I said to myself that day, I want to be back in Tokyo and I want to fight for the gold medal,'" Tamberi said.

They appeared to have all sorts of fun during a competition in which Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus earned bronze.

Tamberi launched an imaginary jump shot after clearing a height.


Barshim was the epitome of cool in shades that kept falling off after his jumps.

One time, he even swatted them away after a successful leap.

They broke.

"I've got 50 pairs," Barshim said.

Now, one gold.

Another for his buddy, too.

"He's one of my best friends. Not only on the track but outside of the track," Barshim said.

"We're always together almost. True spirit, sportsmen spirit, coming here and delivering this message."

"Appreciate what he's done, he appreciates what I've done. This is amazing."



Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp