The world’s fastest man resides in… Italy?
Lamont Marcell Jacobs stunned the athletics world by winning gold in the men’s 100-meter dash at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, becoming the first Italian in history to win one of the most famous headlining events at the Summer Games.
He set a European record time in the process, completing the dash in 9.80 seconds.
Fred Kerley of the United States came away with the silver medal when he posted a personal best 9.84 while Canada’s Andre de Grasse took a second-straight bronze medal at the Olympics with a 9.89-second run.
Jacobs, who was born in the United States and moved to Italy with his mother when he was just one month old, was the second Italian in a matter of minutes to take a gold medal at a track-and-field event. Compatriot Gimbo Tamberi split the gold medal in the high jump with Qatar’s Muttaz Barshim in the high jump.
“It’s been my dream since I was a child,” Jacobs said. “I need a week or so to understand what has happened. Seeing Gimbo win the high jump gold fired me up a lot.”
He’s the first sprinter to win 100-meter gold not named Usain Bolt since 2004, when Justin Gatlin was the last American to win.
“I’ve won Olympic gold after Usain Bolt, it’s unbelievable,” Jacobs said. “Tonight, staring at the ceiling perhaps I will realize.”
Kerley came tantalizingly close to ending the American drought at the 100 meters that had been dominated by Bolt and the Jamaicans. Since the 2008 Games in Beijing, the United States had won two bronzes and a silver, the latter coming in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil when Gatlin finished behind Bolt.
American hopes had only been slimmed heading into the race after Christian Coleman was banned from the Games for an anti-doping violation while Trayvon Bromell, who was considered by many to be a front-runner for gold, didn’t even make the final.
It was an even more painful evening for the Jamaicans, who did not have a runner compete in the 100-meter final for the first time since 2000 after 2012 silver medalist Yohan Blake failed to qualify for the final.