The Medals Of Eternal Friendship

Grace Higgins | January 2nd, 2020

During the 1936 Olympic Games, something very special happened when two Japanese pole vaulters tied for the silver position. Winning an Olympic medal is without a doubt one of the most important parts of any professional athlete’s career: it is their lifelong goal. They struggle and train all year round, sacrificing much of their daily life with the ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal. However, even though it is so important special stories about generosity and friendship do still appear during the games: this story is one of those times.

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Four athletes are competing for the gold medal at the final stage of the men’s pole vault in the 1936 Olympic Games. Earle Meadows, an amazing American vaulter had already jumped the impressive height of 4.35; another American and two Japanese try their best to beat his height but their efforts prove to be unsuccessful. Meadows takes the gold so a jump-off starts to determine who should take silver and bronze.

Bill Sefton, the last American, failed to clear the bar on his first run – which meant that the two Japanese vaulters were definitely going to receive a medal. However, Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe were not just athletes competing on the same team: they were lifelong friends. As a result, they refused to continue because they did not want to compete to figure out who would be second and third. They just wanted to share the honors together.

The judges, however, did not think this request was any good, and refused their request, advising someone needed to take bronze and someone needed to take silver. The Japanese team was told to decide who was second and who was third, after a lengthy discussion, they decided that Nishida had won second place as he had vaulted higher than Oe in his first try. You see Oe had only reached that same height on his second try. The outcome though was not satisfactory for both of them, and they were not happy at all with the result.

When the now-famous two friends returned to Japan, they came up with the perfect plan: split both medals in half and weld them back together. This meant their medal would be half silver and half bronze. These medals became known as The Medals Of Eternal Friendship.

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