Long jump duo justify choosing to share Olympic gold medal after huge sacrifices

Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi will be firm friends for life after ensuring one another came away from Tokyo as an Olympic champion.

Qatar and Italy each picked up a gold medal in the men’s long jump following a dramatic Sunday inside the Olympic Stadium in Japan.

Both cleared 2.37 metres in the tense final and neither had any failed attempts, leaving them dead level for the gold and silver.

Tamberi, 29, and Barshim, 30, would be expected to compete in a jump-off to decide the winner.

However, the latter from Qatar asked Olympic officials while being filmed by TV cameras whether there could be two gold medals.

Once they got the approval, the pair swiftly agreed to enjoy the moment together and ran off celebrating wildly.

Barshim had won bronze at London 2012 then silver at Rio 2016, and he was also the world champion in 2017 and 2019.

Explaining the emotion and thought process behind the decision, 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.

"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.

"This is a dream I don't want to wake up from. I have been through a lot.

"It's been five years that I have been waiting, with injuries and a lot of setbacks.

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"But we are here today sharing this moment and all the sacrifices. It's really worth it now in this moment.

“Coming here and winning Olympic gold, it’s unreal.

“I don’t know what to say. It’s the only thing that’s missing, I’ve won everything, that’s the only thing.

“I don’t want to retire and say that’s the one thing missing. I just feel relieved, and to share it with this dude I can’t be more happy.”

It was a win-win situation for the Italian, who broke his ankle days before the Rio Games in 2016.

"After my injuries, I just wanted to come back, but now I have this gold, it's incredible," Tamberi said. "I dreamed of this so many times.

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

“It means everything to me. I put my life into this, I wanted it too much. I never stopped dreaming it could happen. I remember like yesterday when I was crying in the crowd in 2016 watching these guys jumping, and I couldn’t because I was with this [the cast] and the crutches.

“Man, that’s like a story with a great end. I will tell my son, when I have a son!”

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On his injury woes, he added: “It was really frustrating, because I was never satisfied with a good result after my injury. I passed through every step to go up, but I wasn’t satisfied because I wanted to be first in the world and Olympic champion.

“Even if I won the European Championship and I jump high again, I didn’t care, because I wanted to be Olympic champion. Now I’m really Olympic champion, I can’t believe it.”

Discussing their chat with the official, Barshim continued: “They tried to explain to us, guys you are tied. We weren’t even listening, we were already celebrating.”

Tamberi revealed: “They didn’t want us to do 400 metres with the flag, but I said we deserve it.”

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