The high jump was the best and most elegant of the Olympics


One of the finest displays of staging and sportsmanship of the Tokyo Olympics to date came on Sunday, in the men’s high jump. Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy clashed all evening, until they failed to clear 7-10 after three tries. Their options were to participate in a sudden death barrage or to share the gold medal. After Barshim, wearing a cap with his personal logo, iconically asked for clarification: “Can we have two gold medals?” However, what made the moment so electrifying was not just the result, but the preparation: watching two amazing athletes (who also happen to be close friends) not only to jump hearts, but to do it in a way that was downright stingy.

Tamberi (on the left, the loser absolutely) and Bashim.

Tim Clayton – Corbis

Of all Olympic sports, track and field events are always particularly stylish: shortly after his own victory, the elated Tamberi ran to hug his compatriot Lamont Marcell Jacobs. Jacobs, of course, had just become the very first Italian to win the 100 meters, and he did so while wearing a lovely gorgeous diamond necklace.

The sartorial star of the high jump could have been the pair of Oakley Kato sunglasses that Barshim wore throughout the night competition. These weren’t exactly functional. It was, of course, dark, and shadows flew off his face pretty much every time he walked through the bar. (As the camera cut him off as he readjusted them before each jump, the stripes on the track were reflected in the sci-fi lenses, mirroring the stripes on the Qatari Olympic uniform. Someone call a director of photography!) Deeply futuristic wrap-around sunglasses have been booming for quite some time now, although in the world of professional sports they’ve never really been released. While the Katos are currently sold out on the Oakley website due to high demand, if you are considering purchasing a pair, now may be the time to get on the waitlist. However, you might be competing with a gold medalist: as a New York Times reported, in the moments after their post-gold embrace, Barshim actually broke the glasses he was wearing. “It’s good,” he said. “I have about 50 pairs.”


Unfortunately, there is no personal style Olympic competition yet. But if there were, Barshim and Tamberi would certainly share the honorary gold there as well.


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