Instead, they made history – it was the first joint Olympic podium in athletics since 1912.
It was the first time since Stockholm 1912 that a gold medal was shared in athletics – it happened in both the pentathlon and decathlon that Games.
Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus took bronze, having also jumped at 2.37m, but having more failed attempts across the competition.
Tamberi and Barshim embraced before running to celebrate with their coaches and teammates, hoisting their nation’s flags above their heads.
Both athletes have had to overcome tough injuries in their careers, but Barshim says the sacrifices were worth it.
“It is amazing. This is a dream I don’t want to wake up from,” he said.
“I have been through a lot. It’s been five years that I have been waiting, with injuries and a lot of setbacks. But we are here today sharing this moment and all the sacrifices. It’s really worth it now in this moment.”
Tamberi had to take time out to recover from a career-threatening injury that ruled him out of Rio 2016.
“After my injuries, I just wanted to come back, but now I have this gold, it’s incredible. I dreamed of this so many times,” said the Italian.
“I was told in 2016 just before Rio there was a risk I wouldn’t be able to compete anymore. It’s been a long journey.”
Newsbreak.ng is a publication of Platinum Crest Communications Limited. We are a broad-spectrum source of credible, useful and timely news, features and opinions, especially as they affect Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.