Italian finds his rhythm to win a first outdoor world high jump title in Budapest
Gianmarco Tamberi completed his gold medal collection in Budapest on Tuesday night (August 22) by ending Mutaz Essa Barshim’s six-year reign as world high jump champion.
The pair who famously shared Olympic gold together were once again at the sharp end of a top quality competition but this time the Italian who began his evening by showcasing his drumming prowess ended it by marching to his own beat.
As well as that Tokyo honour, Tamberi now has the world outdoor title to add to his world indoor, European indoor and European outdoor victories. Having been roared on in particular by a very vocal pocket of fellow Italians from the stands, the flamboyant 31-year-old enjoyed his winning moment to its fullest, even ending up taking a dip in the steeplechase water jump.
The Budapest 2023 organisers have brought in a live band to help introduce the field finals and, after the musicians had done their work, Tamberi added a little further colour to proceedings by showing he is no stranger to a drum kit.
His timing was out with his opening jump, though, going over 2.25m at the first time of asking. Indeed, Tamberi had struggled to find his rhythm during qualifying but now he sharpened his focus and needed just one jump to clear 2.29m, 2.33m and 2.36m – a world-leading height.
The most potent threat to his ambition came in the form of JuVaughn Harrison, who also went over 2.36m. Crucially, however, the fact the US champion needed two attempts put him in the silver medal spot on countback.
Barshim, winner of the world title in 2017, 2019 and 2022, was unable to go beyond 2.33m – a height he cleared at the first time of asking – leaving a two-way battle for gold. Try as they might, neither Tamberi or Harrison could get over at 2.38m, meaning the former could celebrate.
“I just went for it,” he said after a competition in which six athletes cleared 2.33m. “I wanted to write history by winning gold medals at all the major competitions.
“After qualification I was a little scared because I did not feel as good as I wanted, but I knew I always change in the final. The new me comes out and my strength is that I always give 100 per cent.
“Of course, I will be looking forward to competing at the Olympic Games. There is no high jumper who won two Olympic golds so making history in Paris would be amazing. But first, the party tonight.”
» Subscribe to AW magazine here