After Mutaz-Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy failed to reach the final height in the 2020 men’s high jump final in Tokyo, they had to make a seemingly difficult decision: a jump-off for one gold or split. of the title of Olympic champion. The jumpers chose the latter, and their longstanding friendship explains why.
Their friendship originated at the 2010 Junior World Championships in New Brunswick – an event that Barshim won – but grew even deeper in 2018 after a shared battle. In 2018, Barshim suffered a serious left ankle injury, a Tamberi treated himself just before the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Tamberi, who returned to competition immediately after the injury after the doctor questioned his ability to do so, helped Barshim come back as strong as he did.
“The injury was so bad that we couldn’t actually imagine coming back to jump,” Barshim said via . Yahoo. “…Mentally, physically, what we’ve been through — he knows, I know, it takes so much.”
As if the return-to-injury storyline wasn’t inspiring enough, the pair also said they decided to share gold medals to prove that winning shouldn’t always mean mentally breaking down the competition. However, Tamberi admitted that it helped that Barshim was the one facing him in this situation.
“Not because I don’t respect the others,” Tamberi said via Yahoo. “I respect all the high jumpers who were there,” he said. “But Mutaz has had the same problem as me, and I know what it means to come back from that injury. I know how frustrating it is.”
Belarusian Maksim Nedasekau, who finished third, did not benefit from the sportsmanship of Barshim and Tamberi. He took home bronze, although no silver medal was awarded.
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