Five-Ring Circus

The Drunk Guy, Kobe Bryant Jr., the Nude Model, and the Other Two Guys Who Won Bronze: Meet the Five Men’s High Jump Medalists

Ivan Ukhov
The five medalists pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men’s high jump on day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Three men’s high jumpers shared the bronze medal this year, creating the most-crowded podium since the Duggar family went on that ill-conceived lecture tour. Canada’s Derek Drouin, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, and Great Britain’s Robbie Grabarz all cleared 2.29 meters while tying with three total misses apiece at 2.32 meters. According to the AP, it’s the first three-way tie for a medal in the high jump since 1992. Before that, the previous tie came in 1908.

The fact that three fellows shared bronze might not be the weirdest thing about the men’s high jump podium. The gold medalist, Ivan Ukhov, somehow lost his uniform in the competition. Unpeturbed, the Russian pinned his number onto a T-shirt and jumped anyway.

Ukhov is best known for showing up to a 2008 competition tremendously drunk and making an ass of himself.

“There’s no denying that Ivan was drunk but he had a fight with his girlfriend and was also upset at failing to qualify for the Olympics,” Ukhov’s manager explained afterward, adding that “Ivan regrets it very much.” Now, just four years later, the Russian has found Olympic glory. Come on, NBC—where’s Ivan Ukhov’s soft-focus feature? This is the greatest tale of redemption in the history of the modern Olympic Games.

But wait, that’s not all! Silver medalist Erik Kynard, an Ohio native who wore calf-high American flag socks while jumping, bears an uncanny resemblance to Kobe Bryant. “I tried to win the gold so I could let the world know my name is Erik Kynard Jr., not Kobe Jr.,” he told The Plain Dealer. “Maybe they’ll appreciate my silver and call me Erik now.” Not likely!

Robbie Grabarz, one of the bronze medalists, posed nude in a gay men’s magazine after deciding he would “quite like a gay following.” He told the Guardian that his ideal breakfast consists of “healthy crap” covered in “thick lumps of cream. Proper milk. Straight from the udder.” Mutaz Essa Barshim is the only successful Qatari track athlete who is a native of that country. Most other notable Qatari tracksters were born elsewhere and paid to come over and switch nationalities. And I’m sure there’s something weird about Derek Drouin, too. (Email me if you know for sure: I’ll pay BIG BUCKS for dirt on Derek Drouin.)

Taken together, they’re the most delightful medal-ceremony spectacle since, well, earlier this year, when Ivan Ukhov took third place in the high jump at the world indoor championships. During that event’s medal ceremony, he stood in the second-place position, either by accident or in a clever attempt to sneak away with a silver medal. They eventually made him switch spots. (You can watch the whole thing unfold in this YouTube video, titled “Ivan Ukhov funny fail.”) In today’s ceremony, Ukhov appears to have received his gold medal without incident, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear later tonight that he’s been hospitalized after trying to swallow it whole.