September 27, 2021

Historic high jumpers – ‘Can we have two golds?’

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Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi shared Olympic gold in the men’s high jump in Tokyo on Sunday; Barshim said: “This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message”

Last Updated: 01/08/21 5:54pm

Historic scenes in the high jump as Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi share gold rather than compete in a jump-off. (Credit: BBC Sport)

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Historic scenes in the high jump as Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi share gold rather than compete in a jump-off. (Credit: BBC Sport)

Historic scenes in the high jump as Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi share gold rather than compete in a jump-off. (Credit: BBC Sport)

There were tears, crazy celebrations and Italian dancing as high-jumping history was made inside Tokyo’s Olympic stadium on Sunday.

Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim added Olympic gold to his list of accolades in the men’s high jump – and persuaded organisers to let him share it with friend and rival Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi.

Barshim, 30, and 29-year-old Tamberi could not be separated after a pulsating final as they ended with jumps of 2.37 metres with no failed attempts. They had to try to clear 2.39m for glory.

After three failures each at that height, an Olympic official stepped up to them, offering a jump-off to decide who the champion would be.

“Can we have two golds?”, Barshim asked him.

After a nod from the official, the two athletes grabbed each other’s hands and the madness began with Tamberi screaming for joy, pouncing on top of his fellow athletes on the track.

Tamberi is emotional five years after a broken ankle denied him the chance to compete in Brazil Tamberi is emotional five years after a broken ankle denied him the chance to compete in Brazil

Tamberi is emotional five years after a broken ankle denied him the chance to compete in Brazil

Barshim added: “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.

“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.”

It was also a win-win situation for the Italian, who broke his ankle days before the Rio Games in 2016.

“After my injuries, I just wanted to come back, but now I have this gold, it’s incredible,” Tamberi said. “I dreamed of this so many times.

Friends and rivals. Tamberi and Barshim share the spoils after a stunning high jump final Friends and rivals. Tamberi and Barshim share the spoils after a stunning high jump final

Friends and rivals. Tamberi and Barshim share the spoils after a stunning high jump final

“I was told in 2016 just before Rio there was a risk I wouldn’t be able to compete anymore. It’s been a long journey.”

Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus, who also cleared 2.37, won bronze on countback.

At the London 2012 Games, Barshim secured bronze, later upgraded to silver. 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.

In a high-level competition, South Korean Woo Sang-hyeok and Australian Brandon Starc, the younger brother of cricketer Mitchell, both cleared 2.35 to finish fourth and fifth.