The Tokyo Olympics came to an end on Sunday, August 8th, but the stories of the kindness that took place there will live on for years to come. After a rough 2020, the event was a welcome distraction, offering confirmation that the world really is returning to normal. However, witnessing the kindness and comradery among athletes was the real win.
While several heartwarming scenes took place throughout the various games, one of our favorite moments of kindness was displayed at the high jump competition when two athletes and friends chose to share the gold medal instead of opting for a tiebreaker. Their decision to put friendship and sportsmanship above ownership of a title was truly inspiring; reminding us that sometimes life’s most meaningful wins take place when we put individualism to the side and opt to honor and celebrate each other instead.
High Jump Athletes Share the Gold
According to USA Today, “Qatar’s Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi had been friends for more than a decade after meeting at the world junior championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 2010.” The pair kept in touch ever since, supporting and cheering each other on over the years. So of course when they learned they would be competing for the men’s high jump at the Olympics, they were rooting for each other.
When their moment finally came, Barshim and Tamberi were both able to clear jumps measuring 2.37 meters without failing any previous attempts. “When the bar was raised to 2.39 meters, the Olympic record, neither jumper could clear it,” explained the Huffpost. “The competition was tied.”
It was at this point that the athletes were offered a ‘jump-off’ to break the tie. Barshim asked if it would be possible for the pair to share the gold instead. When he was told yes, so long as both athletes agreed, their reaction was priceless. There was no need for thinking. Just a glance followed immediately by overwhelming joy and emotion.
“I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold. He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold,” Barshim told the Associated Press. “This is beyond sport. This is the message we deliver to the young generation.”
Tamberi agreed with Barshim in his sentiments following the pair’s moment of kindness, stating, “Sharing with a friend is even more beautiful. It was just magical.”
After a year and a half of isolation and social distancing, witnessing Barshim and Tamberi’s moment of friendship and kindness was heartwarming, to say the least. Seeing them put unity and mutual respect above a fight for individual ownership of the gold medal was the ultimate inspiration. Especially at the Olympics, an event that is watched globally with millions of young athletes looking up to these men. What an incredible example to set for our younger generations!
Needless to say, it’s moments like this one that keep us motivated on our quest for kindness. A giant ‘Thank You’ to Barshim and Tamberi for keeping it kind, even when the stakes are high!