Silence is golden for showman Tamberi – AW

    Italian rises to the occasion with remarkable European high jump win, while Díaz Fortun also turns on the style in the triple jump

    When he retires from athletics, Gianmarco Tamberi has another career ready and waiting for him. The man is a natural conductor.

    He was, without doubt, the centre of the crowd’s attention at the Olympic stadium in Rome on Tuesday night (June 12) and, while the attendances have been disappointingly sparse throughout these championships, the 32-year-old’s appearance had ensured the section directly in front of the high jump mat was a sell-out.

    With an expectant public watching on, president of the Italian republic Sergio Matarella in attendance and a brass band playing the Italian national anthem before the evening’s action got going, the pressure was very much on for Tamberi to put on a show.

    Doing that very thing is what the current world and Olympic champion does best, however, and he rose to the occasion. The only thing he does by half measures is shave.

    The entertainment began with a raucous entrance that gave Tamberi – bouncing into the stadium sporting gold trainers and his trademark semi beard – goosebumps and teed up a truly dramatic evening’s sport, helped by the fact that thousands were hanging on his every move.

    As he entered the fray at 2.22m, the 32-year-old raised his arm to call for complete silence and the crowd obeyed. They didn’t utter a sound until her sailed over the bar and burst into celebrations.

    For his next jump, at 2.26m, he asked for the slow hand clap. That tactic didn’t work quite so well as he needed two attempts to go over that height.

    With all the attention focused on the home hero, however, Ukrainian Vladyslav Lavskyy quietly crept into the lead with first-time clearances at 2.26m and then 2.29m.

    Tamberi wobbled, missing his first two attempts, though all that did what present him with a chance to crank up the drama a notch further and call on the crowd.

    Defeat was not supposed to be in the script and again he asked for silence. Again, it worked and from that point on he began to spread his wings. Victory was all but assured with a first-time clearance of 2.31m, a height Lavskyy passed on after one failure.

    When the Ukrainian’s defeat was confirmed with two failures at 2.33m, Tamberi decided to go into full showman mode.


    First, he tried twice to go over 2.33m and twice he failed but, with gold assured, he decided to give himself a shot at 2.34m. Over he went. Then 2.37m came into view, a height he had not reached since famously tying for Olympic gold with Mutaz Essa Barshim. Again, he cleared it and again the acclaim rained down upon him.

    Tamberi opted not to attempt a PB-equalling 2.39m. Instead, he played a trick on the crowd as again they fell quiet when he feigned injury, before pointing to a collection of springs he had placed in his spikes and grinning from ear to ear.

    He was soon back on his feet and heading straight into the gathered throng that had cheered him on, embracing friends and family, before then making his way to shake the hand of President Matarella. Quite a first competition of the year for the now three-time European high jump champion outdoors!

    In Ridley Scott’s epic film Gladiator, Russell Crowe famously stands in the Collosseum and bellows at the Roman crowd: “Are you not entertained?”. Every single person in the Olympic arena most certainly had been.

    “I knew I was in superb shape and I proved it,” said Tamberi, adding to an Italian gold medal haul that now stands at 10, with Ukraine’s Oleh Doroshchuk taking bronze. “I didn’t want to be outdone by my team-mates who are doing great things, and I made it.

    “I wanted to do great things in front of President Sergio Mattarella. On Thursday I will return to him to receive the flag that I will carry in Paris, at the opening ceremony [of the Olympics]. I was a bit shaky a 2.29m, but then the show began. I did great things. Now it’s time for the Olympics.”


    The high jump was not the only event in which great things were happening.

    In the triple jump, it looked like Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo had made sure of his second European outdoor title when he leapt a championships record of 18.04m with his second jump of the night.

    However, Spain’s Jordan Alejandro Díaz Fortun had other ideas and, in round four, sailed into the lead with a jump of 18.18m – the third-furthest jump of all-time. Only the 18.29m world record of Britain’s Jonathan Edwards and Christian Taylor’s 18.21m have gone exceeded the 23-year-old’s efforts.

    There was no coming back from that for Pichardo, who had to settle for silver, bronze going to Thomas Gogois of France thanks to his PB 17.38m.

    Meanwhile, the women’s javelin title went to Austria’s Victoria Hudson, thanks to a throw of 64.62m.

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