He is one of my best friends – Barshim and Tamberi delight in golden moment

By Sports Desk August 01, 2021

Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Essa Barshim basked in the unusual glow of a joint Olympic high-jump gold in Tokyo, reflecting upon a friendship that helped to lift them to the pinnacle of the sport.

Qatar's world champion Barshim entered Sunday's final as favourite and he and Italy's Tamberi were the last men standing after a thrilling contest, failing to clear their Olympic record of 2.39 metres with their three attempts.

Each athlete had error-free records before that point, meaning a jump-off for gold was in prospect before they elected to split the title and shared an emotional embrace.

In a blog post for Spikes in 2018, Tamberi explained how Barshim provided pivotal support on his return to competitive action after a broken ankle ruled him out of Rio 2016 and placed his career under threat.

"After my injuries I just wanted to come back, but now I have this gold, it's incredible. I dreamed of this so many times," Tamberi told reporters, having been an exuberant presence throughout the competition and afterwards when he celebrated with compatriot and surprise men's 100m winner Marcell Jacobs. 

"I was told in 2016 just before Rio there was a risk I wouldn't be able to compete any more. It's been a long journey."

Barshim also suffered ankle problems between his 2017 and 2019 successes at the World Championships and afterwards he revealed he and Tamberi had remarkably discussed the prospect of being able to share a gold medal previously.

"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 [to continue]," he said of a moment set to go down in Olympic history.

"Actually, we talked about it years ago, but we just said, 'Oh imagine...’, and today, actually it happened. It is a great feeling, you can't be more happy than that."

Barshim added: "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.

"We have been through a lot, the same injury, and we know how much it takes, physically and mentally just to get back here. I appreciate what he has done, he appreciates what I have done. It is amazing."

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