The world watched as Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim decided to split the gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics high jump.
Team Qatar athlete Mutaz Barshim jumped a distance of 2.37 meters at the men’s high jump event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, tying with his competitor Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi.
Fave moment of the Olympics so far. Barshim (Qatar) and Tamberi (Italy) were tied in the high-jump final. The official is there talking about a prospective jump-off, but Barshim asks immediately: "Can we have two golds?" One look, no words exchanged, they know they're sharing it. pic.twitter.com/E3SneYFocA
— Andrew Fidel Fernando (@afidelf) August 1, 2021
When approached by Olympic officials, a solution was offered. The two could compete in a jump-off to determine the winner. However, without any hesitation, Qatar’s Barshim asked if they could instead have “two golds”.
When the Olympics official confirmed it was possible, both ecstatic athletes leaped in each others arms to celebrate the historic win.
While the world watched this iconic moment in awe, the relationship between the two is actually a lot deeper than that moment. Barshim won Qatar’s second-ever Olympics gold medal alongside one of his closest friends, on and off the track.
World renowned performance coach, author, and lecturer Steve Magness called it ‘the best moment of the Olympics.’ Author Andrew Fidel Fernando echoed the sentiment, saying it was his favourite moment of the Games.
Sports writer Jeff Pearlman commented on the sight, saying “I am in absolute love with this moment. Can we PLEASE bottle this and spread everywhere? The goodness. The love. The humanity. Please.”
— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) August 2, 2021
Political columnist and author Gavan Reilly called the sight of Barshim and Tamberi splitting the win as “the true essence of sportsmanship.”
Friends, on and off the track
Tamberi and Barshim share a solid gold friendship. The two have been good friends for some time, with Barshim supporting Tamberi when he suffered a near career-ending injury in 2016.
“With Mutaz especially I built a great relationship. I remember, I went from Ostrava to Paris, and I did badly in Paris, really awful. I couldn’t clear my opening height. I was feeling frustrated, because I didn’t know whether I’d ever get back to the shape I was in in 2016,” wrote Tamberi to Spikes World Athletics in 2018.
After his performance in Paris, Tamberi retreated to his room, disappointed and saddened, not wanting to converse with any of the other athletes.
A day later, he hears a knock on his door. “Gimbo. Gimbo, please I want to talk to you,” said Barshim eagerly at Tamberi’s door. At first, the Italian athlete wanted to be left alone, but Brashim persisted.
“So I gave in and let him in. We talked. I cried in front of him. He tried to calm me down, and told me what he had to say,” wrote Tamberi.
“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,” said Barshim after the two split the win at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.