The greatest moment in the Tokyo Olympics: a tie?
By: James McLean
As the closing ceremonies have come and gone, and I look through the highlight reels of races and events that were live while I was sleeping, I pondered what moment meant the most in one of the strangest sporting events in history.
I understand that world records were broken in dozens of events, the U.S. led in total medal count, golds, both men and women's 400-meter hurdles, the 4X4s, the throws, and on and on and on. But as much as I'm here for the stars and bars of the U, S, of A, I can't contain my pure elation for an event where The United States did not even medal. I'm talking about the High Jump, in particular-- Men's High Jump.
If you didn't watch, you missed some of the greatest cele's, a couple of Kobe Bryant impressions, crowds clapping in unison, and my God some of the most powerful moments in sportsmanship the world will ever know.
Now, sportsmanship for whatever reason seems to be highlighted when people lose horribly. A fallen runner is picked up by another runner who is also in dead last… I'm not saying that isn't honorable, but it sure makes the impression that to be a good sport you got to lose big. So why not the inverse?
To recap, the high jump came down to Gianmaro Tamberi of Italy and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar. Both jumpers were absolutely perfect, going word for word, bar for bar, stealing each other's flow.
Perfection came to a halt at the top height, where both jumpers missed all three of their attempts. The result came to two options: A jump off, or both get gold. If someone wanted to make this into a movie, they'd obviously want an epic jump-off, a cross between Penalty Kicks and a Zoolander walk-off.
As the tension reaches its apex, Tamberi and Barshim embrace and walk to the judge together. When given the news of a tie, the judge begins to explain the next steps. Cutting him off, Barshim asks if they could have two golds, reluctantly the judge says yes. Barshim looks at Tamberi and says, "History, my man." They embrace-- champions.
What follows is a celebration so authentic, so real, so deep within the heart of an athlete, it gives me a single tear down my cheek.
In a world of psychotic maniacs who constantly chase each other to see who can be the best, who can get to space first off of their billion-dollar wealth, who can be the loudest and most polarizing politician possible, I cannot express the refreshing moment of two strangers looking at each other and agreeing that both can be the best.
Call it a millennial participation award mindset, call it being lazy, I don't give a shit, this moment will be in my mind for forever. Two people, two countries, sharing a feeling that so often is only given to one-- the feeling of being the greatest in the world.