Two Olympic high jumpers gave gold-worthy performances at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday and they decided they both deserved the medal.
Qatar’s Mutaz-Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi both had high jumps of 2.37 meters. They each attempted to beat that and clear 2.39 meters and failed on their first try.
They could’ve gone into a jump-off, each taking turns until they beat the score. But instead, Barshim asked if they could share the gold medal, to which Tamberi agreed.
When a judge said they could indeed share the gold medal, the Italian high jumper embraced his opponent, then ran around the stadium in excitement.
Barshim broke down in tears. The Qatari high jumper won bronze at both the London Olympics in 2012 and the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Tamberi almost lost his chance of competing at the Tokyo games. He suffered an ankle injury ahead of the Rio Olympics and a doctor told him he might not be ready to compete in 2020, according to CBS Sports.
As if to show he had proved his doubters wrong after winning gold, Tamberi held up his old cast — on it, he had written “Road to Tokyo 2020,” then crossed out the year and added “2021.” He held the cast triumphantly after the event.
Barshim had also suffered an ankle injury in 2018, which deepened the bond between the two athletes, who met during the 2010 world junior championships, according to CBS Sports.
The men sobbed and embraced each other after winning gold together. “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 told reporters after the event, according to Reuters.
“He is one of my best friends, not only on the track but outside the track. We work together,” he added. “This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message.”
The pair said also said they decided to share gold to prove winning isn’t always about mentally breaking down your competition. Tamberi said it was significant that Barshim was the one he tied with.
“Not because I don’t respect the others/nI respect all the high jumpers that were there,” Tamberi told reporters, according to CBS Sports. “But Mutaz passed through the same problem as me, and I know what it means to come back from that injury. I know how frustrating it is.”
Barshim told USA Today it was a dream he didn’t want to wake up from. “I have been through a lot. It’s been five years that I have been waiting, with injuries and a lot of setbacks. “But we are here today sharing this moment and all the sacrifices. It’s really worth it now in this moment.”
When the duo took to the winner’s platform, they each placed a gold medal on each other.