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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Qatar’s Olympic heroes return after leaving behind ’emotional’ global impact

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Qatar secured historic victories at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a weightlifting gold medal, another in the high-jump competition, as well as its first beach volleyball medal.

Qatar’s Olympic athletes returned to Doha on Saturday night after a historic participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that made waves around the world.

“We are pleased with the historical results that our team achieved by winning the gold and bronze medals. We congratulate Al Ad’am [Qatar’s team] and our Olympic Committee for these honourable results in their participation at the Olympics,” tweeted Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Saturday.

While the athletes are back in the Gulf state, they have left a lasting impression in Japan and around the world.

Among the most iconic moments to emerge from the Games came during the high jump event in which Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim chose to share his gold medal with his Italian opponent and long-time friend, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamber.

Speaking to the Associated Press [AP], Barshim said he quickly found himself on the receiving end of attention in the streets of Tokyo, with strangers walking up to him to comment on the heartfelt moment at the major sporting event.

“This Japanese lady, she came up to me and she was like, ‘I’m so happy. You made me cry,’” Barshim told the AP on Saturday.

The Team Qatar athlete jumped a distance of 2.37 meters at the men’s high jump event on 1 August, tying with his Italian competitor.

The two were offered to compete in a jump-off to determine the winner, but without any hesitation, Qatar’s Barshim asked if they could instead have “two golds”. This marks the first time in 109 years that an Olympic gold medal is shared.

‘Essence of sportsmanship’: World reacts to Tamberi-Barshim 2020 Olympics win

“Everyone has been telling me how much of a historic moment it was. The impact is definitely huge,” Barshim told the new agency.

Although the historic scene made global headlines, the two athletes have been good friends for some time, with Barshim supporting Tamberi when he suffered a near career-ending injury in 2016.

“With Mutaz especially I built a great relationship. I remember, I went from Ostrava to Paris, and I did badly in Paris, really awful. I couldn’t clear my opening height. I was feeling frustrated, because I didn’t know whether I’d ever get back to the shape I was in in 2016,” wrote Tamberi to Spikes World Athletics in 2018.

After his performance in Paris, Tamberi retreated to his room, disappointed and saddened, not wanting to converse with any of the other athletes.

A day later, he heared a knock on his door. “Gimbo. Gimbo, please I want to talk to you,” said Barshim. At first, the Italian athlete wanted to be left alone, but Barshim persisted.

“So I gave in and let him in. We talked. I cried in front of him. He tried to calm me down, and told me what he had to say,” wrote Tamberi.

Qatar’s Olympic wins

The president of Qatar Olympic Committee [QOC] Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani said on Saturday that his country’s participation in the 32nd Summer Olympic Games [Tokyo 2020] is the most successful in the Gulf state’s sporting history.

It was the first time that Doha won three medials in the Olympics; one for weightlifter Fares Ibrahim in the 96kg weightlifting competition, another for Barshim’s gold in the high jump, and a bronze medal in beach volleyball.

Aside from the emotional show of sportsmanship, Barshim’s win also marked Qatar’s official second-ever Olympics gold medal.

Meanwhile, the beach volleyball win was also the first such victory for an Arab country in a team sport.

The three medals catapulted Qatar to the top of the Arab countries ranking at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


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