Italy’s Marcell Jacobs on Sunday produced the performance of a lifetime to win the men’s 100m final of the Olympic Games, shocking the pre-race favourites. The USA-born Italian, racing from lane three, dipped at the line in a time of 9.80 seconds in a new national record at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
Jacobs beat a quality field including the USA’s Fred Kerley and Canadian ace Andre de Grasse who picked up the silver and bronze medals. Kerley followed in second place in a time of 9.84 secs with De Grasse winning his second straight 100m bronze clocking 9.89 secs.
It is the first time since Athens 2004 that a new men’s 100m Olympic champion was crowned, following the retirement of Jamaican legend Usain Bolt.
Jacobs came into the race as the surprise package with no experience racing in finals in major championships.
Jacobs flew under the radar coming into the final after earning his place on the start line in his maiden Olympic 100m final as one of two ‘fastest losers’ in the semis. The long jumper-turned-sprinter finished third in his semi-finals where he clocked a European record time of 9.84 secs.
Proving the time was no fluke, Jacobs chopped 0.4 secs off the time from the semis to claim Italy’s first Olympic medal in the men’s 100m and his country’s first in an athletics sprint event since Moscow 1980, when Pietro Mennea won the men’s 200m.
Born to an Italian mother in Texas, Jacobs reached the semi-finals at the 2019 World Championships but etched his name into the history books as the first Olympic champion in the post-Bolt era.
The top step of the 100m podium at the Olympics has belonged to Bolt for more than a decade, winning gold in the premier sprint event at the global showpiece in Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016.
Jacobs ran his perfect race getting his nose in front going head-to-head with Kerley to his right. But the Italian had done the damage early in the race and flexed his muscles and thumped his chest as he crossed the line.
“I don’t know, it’s a dream, a dream, it is fantastic. Maybe tomorrow I can imagine what they are saying, but today it is incredible,” an elated Jacobs said.
“It was my childhood dream to win an Olympics Games [medal], and obviously a dream can turn into something different, but to run this final and win it is a dream come true.”