Best Friends Decide to Share Gold Medals in Olympics!

True Sportsmanship: Best Friends Decide to Share Gold Medals in Olympics!

What an experience for these two men!

I think I speak for everyone when I say that podium finishes aren’t the only reasons why we’re all watching the Olympics right now. A lot of inspirational stories come out of Olympic competitions, and we’re all here for it because we know that some feel-good news is exactly what we need. One of the best stories about the Olympics so far is the story of two best friends, Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Essa Barshim, who decided to share the podium. That also meant they would both get gold medals!

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Two best friends sharing gold medals

Image credit (L-R): Gianmarco Tamberi  and Mutaz Barshim Official Facebook Pages

Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Essa Barshim are high jumpers from Italy and Qatar, respectively. They first met in 2010 when they both competed at the World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick. In that event, Barshim won the title while Tamberi couldn’t even qualify. But since then, they developed a strong friendship, being each other’s support system through injuries; Tamberi even attended Barshim’s wedding in Sweden! 

They finally competed against each other in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics during the men’s high jump finals. In the quest to win gold medals, both men made jumps at 2.37 metres, which is approximately 7 feet 9 ¼ inches. As a tiebreaker, one of them had to hit the 2.39-metre mark. Neither of them could do it. 

The decision

After three attempts, they were called by the official who told them that they had to continue with a jump-off. But seeing as both of them had already reached their peak jump, Barshim interrupted the official asking, “Can we have two golds?”

And the official answered, “It’s possible.”

At that moment, Barshim reached his hand out to his best friend of more than 10 years, and the rest was history. Without skipping a beat, Tamberi gave his friend a hug, shouted out loud, and rolled around the track. Ah, the passion of Italians!

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The decision was a no-brainer for the two athletes. According to CBC, Barshim said, “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.”

In the same interview, Barshim had nothing but respect and affection for Tamberi. “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.”

And what an inspiring message it is indeed. Athletes may be built to prove themselves better than the rest; but at the end of the day, respect for their fellow athletes and the ability to acknowledge other people’s greatness is what keeps sports alive. These best friends who shared gold medals embodied that perfectly. 

Featured image credit (L-R): Gianmarco Tamberi | Official Facebook Page; Mutaz Barshim | Official Facebook Page

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.