High jump winner Gianmarco Tamberi at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (© Getty Images)
Gianmarco Tamberi flirted with danger throughout the early stages of the competition, which lasted just under two hours, but he eventually fulfilled his status as the pre-event favourite to win Italy’s first World Indoor Championships gold medal in 15 years.
Once again sporting his familiar half-beard – having removed 50 per cent of his designer stubble the night before the competition – and with his hair gathered into a sumo-style topknot, Tamberi was the only man to negotiate 2.36m.
In the process, he continued his unbeaten record this season, extending his winning streak to five competitions.
The crucial height proved to be 2.33m with eight men in the 12-strong field still in contention.
Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz has struggled to find his best form since knee surgery in May 2014 but cleared on his first attempt, US indoor champion Erik Kynard with his second and Tamberi his third, the latter having also got over 2.29m on this third attempt.
Defending champion Mutaz Essa Barshim also pulled up on his second attempt with a slight cramp and the Qatari opted to take his final available attempt at 2.36m.
After Grabarz and Kynard both brought the bar down with their first attempts at 2.36m, Tamberi’s nerve held and he sailed clear.
Barshim then had a valiant attempt to stay in the competition but also failed. After second-attempt failures, Grabarz and Kynard gave everything to stay in the contest and had close third tries at 2.36m but both just nudged the bar off and victory was Tamberi’s.
At 2.40m, with no one else competing in the Oregon Convention Center and the spotlight solely on him, almost 7000 people remained in their seats to see whether Tamberi could clear a US indoor all-comers' record of 2.40m, which would also have been an Italian record.
It didn’t happen but he had three respectable attempts which were close enough to suggest he may become the next member of the elite club of high jumpers, currently numbering 16, who have cleared 2.40m or higher.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF