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Qatar and Italy’s High Jumpers Share Olympic Gold in an Emotional Celebration

Mutaz Essa Barshim of Team Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Team Italy celebrate on the track. Photo: Getty

Yesterday marked a historic moment of sportsmanship at the Tokyo Olympics. Qatar’s sprinter and long jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim added Olympic gold to his list of accolades in the men’s high jump on August 1 and persuaded organizers to let him share it with his friend and rival, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi. Both, 30-year-old Barshim and 29-year-old Tamberi ended with jumps of 2.37 meters and had no failed attempts until they attempted to clear 2.39 meters. After three failures each at that height, an Olympic official first offered them a jump-off to decide the winner.

Barshim asked, “Can we have two golds?” and the official nodded. The two athletes clasped hands and jumped with joy. “I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it. We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need,” Barshim said, adding, “He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message.”

Tamberi, who broke his ankle days before the Rio Games in 2016, said, “After my injuries I just wanted to come back, but now I have this gold, it’s incredible,” he said. “I dreamed of this so many times… I was told in 2016 just before Rio there was a risk I wouldn’t be able to compete any more. It’s been a long journey.”

Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus, who also cleared 2.37, took the bronze on countback. Barshim won bronze, later upgraded to silver, at the London 2012 Games. He picked up another silver in Rio four years later and then won two successive world titles in 2017 and 2019. His personal best of 2.43m is the second-highest jump of all time, behind Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s world record mark of 2.45 set in 1993. Meanwhile, Tamberi brought the cast he wore in recovery from that injury along with him to the Olympic Stadium with the words ‘Road to Tokyo 2021’ written on it.

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