We love watching the Olympic Games for so many reasons. Of course, there’s the excitement of watching top athletes compete at the highest level with the hopes of winning a gold medal. But the Olympics also bring us so many inspirational stories in the bright spotlight of international competition.
Two high jumpers known for reaching unbelievable heights may have given us the best moment of sportsmanship at the Tokyo games by agreeing to share a gold medal.
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi spent the entire competition going back and forth clearing the bar as judges moved it higher and higher. Neither athlete had a single miss all the way up to the height of 2.37 meters, or 7.775 feet.
But after three failed attempts for each athlete at the next height, 2.39 meters, a judge approached them. Typically, the rules call for a jump-off between contestants who tie at the top height. However, when the field judge walked up to Barshim and Tamberi to discuss the procedure, something unexpected happened.
Barshim asked a simple question.
“Can’t we have two golds?” he said to the judge.
Television cameras caught the judge’s answer to the unusual request — “It’s possible” — and the subsequent reaction from the athletes, which is pure exuberance. Tamberi leaps into Barshim’s arms, then dashes off, eventually falling into happy tears on the track.
The moment quickly went viral. You might want to grab some tissues; this scene will have you misty-eyed!
NO ONE celebrates like the Italians do. 🥳🇮🇹 #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/DcUcBFEZjE
— Peacock (@peacock) August 1, 2021
Barshim told Reuters his decision to ask about sharing gold came down to knowing both he and his good friend and fellow athlete gave their all at the Olympics.
“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 Reuters. “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.”
“I still can’t believe it happened,” Tamberi told the Associated Press. “Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. … It was just magical.”
You can watch the entire lead-up to the moment where the athletes agreed to the shared gold, along with the exciting reactions thanks to NBC Sports on YouTube. Trust us, it’s worth the five minutes to see the whole thing!
Barshim’s high jump win means he’s now a three-time Olympic medalist, and Tamberi’s gold medal performance earned him his first Olympic medal, according to AP.
Congratulations to both athletes, not only for your high-flying achievements on the field but also for setting a gold standard in sportsmanship!