Settled: High-jump friends elect double gold over jump-off

Jul 31, 2021, 10:24 PM | Updated: Aug 1, 2021, 10:49 am

TOKYO (AP) — The Italian high jumper leaped into his rival’s arms, then belly-flopped onto the hard track, rolled around a few times and screamed.

Gianmarco Tamberi was just getting warmed up, too.

It’s not every day you tie your good friend for gold.

Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar agreed to the tie Sunday at the Tokyo Games in a competition settled not by clearing the top height but through a subtle nod.

Edge definitely to Tamberi, though, for the degree of difficulty in celebrations. That’s not even counting all the hugs and kisses he delivered — or all of the people he jumped into the arms of.

He was just that excited. This was that crazy of an ending.

“I still can’t believe it happened,” Tamberi said. “Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. … It was just magical.”

In a huddle with track officials, the athletes were given the option to settle the tie with a jump-off.

Barshim had a better idea: How about two golds?

The official said that was possible.

Barshim nodded and Tamberi instantly accepted, slapping Barshim’s hand and jumping into his arms. It would be far from his last celebration.

“For me, coming here, I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold,” Barshim said. “He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold.”

It stressed sportsmanship, too — or so they hope. It also adds to Barshim’s Olympic medal collection, pairing nicely with silver in Rio and another medal at the 2012 London Games.

“This is beyond sport,” Barshim said. “This is the message we deliver to the young generation.”

Both high jumpers were perfect until the bar was set to the Olympic-record height of 2.39 meters (7 feet, 10 inches). Each missed three times.

Funny, they actually talked about this sort of situation before. Not in great detail, though.

“We just said, ‘Imagine,'” Barshim recalled. “Today, it happened.”

When Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs surprisingly won the 100 meters a few minutes later, there was Tamberi to greet him. Not so much as greet him as celebrate by jumping into the sprinter’s arms and curling his own arm around Jacobs’ bald head.

“I was in ecstasy. My heart was exploding,” Tamberi said. “I was just full of emotions and I just screamed at him before he got in the blocks and I just supported him. I’m the captain of the national team so I just felt to do something.”

Tamberi has kept a cast for five years — a reminder of his broken ankle just before Rio. He was in his best shape, too, which forced him to watch the Rio Games. When it came off, he wrote on it “Road to Tokyo 2020.” Then, he crossed out 2020 after the pandemic led to a postponement and wrote in red, “2021.”

“I said to myself that day, ‘I want to be back in Tokyo and I want to fight for the gold medal,'” Tamberi said.

They appeared to have all sorts of fun during a competition in which Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus earned bronze. Tamberi launched an imaginary jump shot after clearing a height.

Swish.

Barshim was the epitome of cool in shades that kept falling off after his jumps. One time, he even swatted them away after a successful leap.

They broke.

“I’ve got 50 pairs,” Barshim said.

Now, one gold.

Another for his buddy, too.

“He’s one of my best friends. Not only on the track but outside of the track,” Barshim said. “We’re always together almost. True spirit, sportsmen spirit, coming here and delivering this message.

“Appreciate what he’s done, he appreciates what I’ve done. This is amazing.”

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Two Kansas high schools investigate offensive chants at game

Two Kansas high schools are investigating after students at one school reportedly yelled racist and offensive taunts at the other school’s basketball team. Topeka High School’s team was subjected to “racial slurs, threats and disgusting taunts,” during a game on Saturday with Valley Center High School, Coach Geo Lyons said in a Change.org petition. He […]
16 hours ago
Spain's head coach Luis Enrique, left, embraces Sergio Busquets after the penalty shootout at the W...
Associated Press

Twilight for Busquets, last of Spain’s champs at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Sergio Busquets stood in the center circle, hands on hips, a blank look on his face. He reached soccer’s top step with Spain and now had been stung by La Roja’s third straight elimination from a major tournament on penalty kicks, this time 3-0 to Morocco after a 0-0 draw […]
2 days ago
Morocco's Jawad El Yamiq, top, celebrates with team mates after the penalty shootout at the World C...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup highlights from Day 17

Highlights from the 17th day of the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday. ___ AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
2 days ago
FILE - Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) walks off the field after his teams loss to...
Associated Press

Injury-plagued LA Rams claim QB Baker Mayfield off waivers

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams claimed quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers Tuesday, adding the former No. 1 pick to their options behind injured Matthew Stafford for the rest of the season. Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and former Cleveland Browns starter, was released by the Panthers on Monday at his […]
2 days ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo look on during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal...
Associated Press

Ronaldo dropped, Ramos scores 3 for Portugal at World Cup

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — A chant of “RONALDO! RONALDO!” swept around the biggest stadium at the World Cup, followed by loud jeers when the fans realized their idol wasn’t coming onto the field. Cristiano Ronaldo was, in fact, sitting in the Portugal dugout, looking glum and still wearing a substitute’s bib. And the guy who […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Mercer beats Middle Georgia State 100-62

MACON, Ga. (AP) — Jalyn McCreary had 25 points and Mercer beat Middle Georgia State 100-62 on Tuesday. McCreary finished 12 of 13 from the floor for the Bears (5-5). Michael Zanoni scored 17 points while going 6 of 9 (4 for 6 from distance). David Craig was 5 of 5 shooting and 3 of […]
2 days ago
Settled: High-jump friends elect double gold over jump-off