How the ‘Medals of Eternal Friendship’ came about


    Joined silver and bronze software called “Medals of Eternal Friendship” (left). Medalists Meados, Nishuida and Oe.

    Tourists who happen to visit the National Museum in Tokyo will find a unique joined Olympic silver and bronze medal on display.

    The medal on display was actually owned by Japanese Olympic pole vaulter Suco Oe, whose family donated it to the museum upon his death in the Philippines during the start of World War II.

    The story on how the two medals were joined was rather hazy and appeared complicated.

    It started on the night of August 5, 196 at the Berlin Olympic Stadium where the remaining medal play in pole vault event was being contested among the four finalists – Earl Meadows and Bill Sefton both of the United States and Nishida and Oe of Japan.

    It was past nine o’clock in the evening and only a few lights illuminated the pole vault area where competition continued longer than expected. A few thousand spectators sat in near darkness to witness the climax of the competition.

    The final four competitors sat on chairs weary and cold, each covering himself with blanket to ward off the chill. Sefton was eliminated on the first jump leaving Meadows, Nishida and Oe battling for the gold, silver and bronze medals.

    Nishida was actually eyeing on improving his silver medal finish four years ago in Los Angeles where he lost the gold by half an inch.

    The bar was raised to 14 feet 3-1/4 inches. Only Meadows made it in his second attempt assuring himself of the gold medal. The two Japanese failed, both in three tries and had to re-jump to determine the silver and bronze medallists.

    Total darkness, however, was engulfing the competition area. An almost zero visibility forced competition officials to end hostilities.

    “Oe and I went back to the Olympic Village certain that we had tied, “ Nishida recalled. “Today, ties are broken by the jumper who had few misses. But that rule was not in effect in 1936.”

    Competition officials, meanwhile, decided overnight to award the silver medal to Nishida and the bronze to Oe without explaining how they arrived to such decision.

    “Thus I had won my second silver medals, for that was my placing four years ago in Los Angeles. But I was not happy with the decision,” he told sports media years later. “When we got back to Japan, Oe and I agreed to that we would have our silver and bronze medals cut in half.”

    “Then we joined half of the silver medals with half of the bronze medal which we would both keep. That made us very famous, for the medals were called the ‘Medals of Eternal Friendship,” he said.

    “Sadly there are the remaining memories of my friend and teammate Oe because he was killed in the Philippine campaign at the start of World War II,” Nishida narrated.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    Comments are closed.