This is a fun piece by Stuart Weir on Olympic and World Champion Gianmarco Tamberi, who he calls Gimbo!
World and Olympic champion, Gianmarco Tamberi
Gianmarco Tamberi won the World Championship high jump on countback from JuVaughn Harrison after they had both cleared 2.36. Mutaz Essa Barshim was third. Tamberi is now Olympic and World champion – having shared the Olympic gold with Barshim. Afterwards, he said: “I just went for it. I wanted to write history by winning gold medals at all the major competitions. The feeling is amazing. It is worth all the sacrifices over the years. No high jumper has won two Olympic golds, so making history in Paris would be amazing. But first, the party tonight. I need to celebrate this medal because I deserve it after one year of sacrifices and diet”.
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – AUGUST 20: Gianmarco Tamberi of Team Italy celebrates during the Men’s High Jump Qualification during day two of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023 at National Athletics Centre on August 20, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for World Athletics)
Barshim’s comment afterward indicates how Gimbo is regarded by his peers: “I am happy that Tamberi won the gold. It was a medal he was missing from his CV, and he added it tonight. He deserved to be on the top of the podium. He has been working hard, and it is time to celebrate”.
Gimbo is always worth listening to. When he was asked by one of the World Athletics staff for his assessment of his performance in the qualifying round in Budapest, he replied: “Did you watch the competition? It was terrible. I came to the competition to lose as little energy as possible, but it did not work. It was a total disaster. Hopefully, in the final, it is going to be different. I am used to this kind of competition – in qualification, I jump horribly”. Not exactly a predictable or bland reply!
High Jump Love god, Gianmarco Tamberi, photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for World Athletics
Gimbo displays his complete personality when he competes. When he clears a bar, he celebrates; when he fails, he reacts as if it really matters – for example, throwing himself on the ground as if shot. Earlier this year I saw him compete in Poland. He thought the crowd was not engaging enough with the event and went over and urged them to cheer more.
Gianmarco Tamberi is king of his domain, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics.
I once asked him about this approach, and he said, “I always try to put all my positive vibes into my jumping. I didn’t want to be the kind of athlete with what I would call a typical track and field attitude. I wanted to be myself when I was competing. Just because I put a lot of work into training does not mean that I have to be like a robot. I want to be myself, and that is who I am. I like to make the crowd part of my competition and give them some fun because they pay for the tickets. I want them to be happy and to go home thinking I enjoyed watching that competition. I’m just enjoying myself. My reactions are not programmed. I am having fun when I compete, and I want people to have fun watching us”.
He also has aspirations to be a basketball star. See him in action at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PE_sIzlMzg
The sport needs more characters like him!