Sharing a gold medal might be the smartest move ever

Mutaz Essa Barshim (l.) of Team Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Team Italy share the track after sharing gold.

Mutaz Essa Barshim (l.) of Team Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Team Italy share the track after sharing gold.
Image: Getty Images

You know what they say, teamwork makes the dream work.

That’s exactly what happened on Sunday at the end of the Olympic high jump competition, when Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi decided to share the gold medal.

Both athletes were phenomenal in their performances. Both were faultless up to the 2.39-meter bar. After neither was able to clear, they were approached by what appeared to be an Olympic official, who asked if they wanted to do a jump-off or just share the gold medal. Rather than taking it to a sudden-death round, the two decided to share the glory of being Olympic champions.

There were mixed feelings about the decisions of these two on social media. Some were on board with both leaving Tokyo with gold, calling it a great display of sportsmanship. Others objected on the grounds that the Olympics are about finding a true winner and loser.

I think this is one of the smartest decisions any athlete could make in this situation. Barshim and Tamberi were both clearly superior to their competition, and if both can go with gold, why would anyone not take that deal? That’s the ultimate win-win situation.

If there is a loser here, it’s likely the sportsbooks that have two winners to payout. Barshim, the favorite, was going off at +400 and Tamberi, third-favorite, at +650.

Think of the endorsements and recognition both athletes will now receive gooing back to their respective countries as the best high jumpers in the world.

It also irks me when civilians — especially American ones — criticize Olympians for the decisions they make in the heat of competition, like they could make better ones. Sometimes it’s just better to clap for the people in the arena, because you have no idea what it takes to be them.

Those athletes are probably not bemoaning the fact that they have to share the podium. Their focus is more likely on the fact that all their hard work has finally paid off.

Lord knows I would have done the same thing if I were them.

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