HERE’S HOW one of the most intriguing high jump competitions in Olympic history ended:
Official: “It’s a tie. We can continue with the jumpoff.”
Mutaz Barshim: “Can we have two Golds?”
… Long silent pause…
Official: “It’s possible.”
… Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi look at each other, ignoring whatever explanation the official is giving…
Barshim: “History my man, Olympic Champion.”
The truce won universal approval and ended 2½ hours of intense competition as sportsmanship triumphed in a rare way. For the first time since the 1908 pole vault an Olympic competition would have 2 golds.
The combatants were from Qatar and Italy, but they ended as brothers this day, matching perfect records until the final height of 7-10 (2.39) proved inaccessible to each.
For Barshim, 30, this completed his set of Olympic medals, having earned silver in ’16 and a bronze — as part of a 3-way tie — in ’12.
For Tamberi, 29, it was his first of any color.
Both overcame serious injuries, with Tamberi’s causing him to miss Rio — he even used a piece of his cast as a prop for incentive on his final attempt here.
But they weren’t the only ones jumping at the very end. Record depth in the field saw the most ever clear 7-7¾/2.33 (7) and 7-8½/2.35 (5, a tie). Thanks to passing, 7 in the field had chances as the bar went to 7-9¼ (2.37) and 6 were still alive for the excitement at 7-10 (2.39).
How did this great field sort out? Following the chart will be of great help. (Continued below)
Local favorite Naoto Tobe of Japan was the first to exit the 13-man field, missing thrice at 7-5¼ (2.27). The 7-6½ (2.30) bar shaved two more from the field, including American Shelby McEwen. The U.S. still had JuVaughn Harrison in contention, as Darryl Sullivan was a casualty from the qualifying round.
Three more left the competition at 7-7¾ (2.33), most notably formchart favorite Ilya Ivanyuk of Russia, co-world leader at 7-9¼ (2.37). The 7 who did clear 7-7¾/2.33 were the most in history.
Four cleared 7-8½ (2.35), a seasonal best for all on first attempts — Barshim, Tamberi, Australian Brandon Starc and Korea’s Sang-hyeok Woo. For Woo, his second straight PR was also a Korean Record. Harrison, last in the order, passed this height, as did co-world leader Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus after one miss and Doha silver medalist Mikhail Akimenko of Russia after two misses.
So a logjam was created at the eventual decisive height of 7-9¼ (2.37). Barshim and Tamberi were tied in the lead with perfect records, while Woo, Starc, Nedasekau, Akimenko and Harrison followed in order on tiebreakers.
Barshim and Tamberi continued their perfect records with first-attempt clearances, with the Italian having to wait through a men’s 400H semi. Nedasekau also cleared on a first attempt, but his =PR followed two misses at earlier heights, putting him in the bronze medal position. Exiting here was Akimenko, while Woo, Starc and Harrison all missed once and passed to 7-10 (2.39).
The jumping was paused twice more for the hurdles, both times when Nedasekau was next up. A total of 15 attempts at 7-10 (2.39) produced 15 misses, with Tamberi and the surprising Woo coming closest.
Afterward, Barshim and Tamberi approached an official for the went-viral conversation before two wild celebrations began to the delight of seemingly everyone.
“This is a dream I don’t want to wake up from,” said Barshim. “I have been through a lot. It’s been 5 years that I have been waiting, with injuries and a lot of setbacks.”
Said Tamberi, “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.”
Not everyone was on board with the decision for co-golds, including Ivanyuk: “Forgive me, this might not be a nice thing to say, but this is unfair. They should have been forced to jump again because you can’t do that in relation to the other athlete. You can’t do that.”
From reports seen elsewhere, Ivanyuk’s opinion was in the minority. Today, two golds were better than one.
MEN’S HIGH JUMP RESULTS
(August 01; temperature 86–82F/30–28C; humidity 68–78%)
1. tie, Mutaz Barshim (Qat) & Gianmarco Tamberi (Ita) 7-9¼ (2.37) (=WL);
3. Maksim Nedasekau (Blr) 7-9¼ (2.37) =NR (=WL);
4. Sang-Hyeok Woo (SK) 7-8½ (2.35) NR;
5. Brandon Starc (Aus) 7-8½ (2.35);
6. Mikhail Akimenko (Rus) 7-7¾ (2.33);
7. JuVaughn Harrison (US) 7-7¾ (2.33);
8. Django Lovett (Can) 7-6½ (2.30);
9. Ilya Ivanyuk (Rus) 7-6½ (2.30);
10. Hamish Kerr (NZ) 7-6½ (2.30);
11. Tom Gale (GB) 7-5¼ (2.27);
12. Shelby McEwen (US) 7-5¼ (2.27);
13. Naoto Tobe (Jpn) 7-4¼ (2.24).
(best-ever mark-for-place: 5, 7)
insert chart ?
QUALIFYING (July 30; auto-qualifier 7-6½/2.30)
Qualifiers: all finalists cleared 7-5¾ (2.28)
Non-qualifiers: [7-4½/2.25]—Michael Mason (Can), Dzmitry Nabokau (Blr), Andrii Protsenko (Ukr);
[7-3/2.21]—Takashi Eto (Jpn), Yu Wang (Chn), Majed El Dein Ghazal (Syr), Edgar Rivera (Mex), Fernando Ferreira (Bra), Thiago Julio Moura (Bra), Mateusz Przybylko (Ger), Loïc Gasch (Swi), Donald Thomas (Bah);
[7-1½/2.17]—Luis Zayas (Cub), Stefano Sottile (Ita), Tihomir Ivanov (Bul), Adrijus Glebauskas (Lit), Darryl Sullivan (US), Mathew Sawe (Ken), Jamal Wilson (Bah);
… nh—Hup Wei Lee (Mas). ◻︎