Their friendship was born during the 2010 World Junior Championships in New Brunswick – an event won by Barshim – but was further strengthened in 2018 after a common struggle. In 2018 Barshim suffered a serious left ankle injury, a Tamberi being treated just before the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Tamberi, who returned to competition after the doctor questioned his ability to do so immediately after the injury, helped Barshim bounce back as strong as he did.
“The injury was so bad we couldn’t imagine coming back to jump,” Barshim said via Yahoo. “… Mentally, physically, what we’ve been through – he knows, I know, it takes so long. “
As if the scenario of returning injuries wasn’t inspiring enough, the couple also said they decided to share gold medals to prove that winning doesn’t always have to mean mentally breaking the competition. Tamberi admitted, however, that it helped that Barshim was the one facing him in this situation.
“Not because I don’t respect other people,” Tamberi said, via Yahoo. “I respect all the high jumpers who were there,” he said. “But Mutaz went through the same problem as me, and I know what it means to come back from this injury. I know how frustrating it is. “
Belarusian Maksim Nedasekau, who finished third, did not benefit from the sportsmanship of Barshim and Tamberi. He won bronze even though no silver medal was awarded.