On the night of the 100-meter gold medal race that once belonged to the Jamaican superstar, a Texas-born Italian with a deeper history in long jump than outdoor sprints won the long-standing race. defined Olympic royalty.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Lamont Marcell Jacobs is the fastest man in the world.
The Italian crossed the finish line in 9.8 seconds on Sunday night, the first medal in the country’s history in the 100 meters. Pietro Mennea won the 200 in 1980 and Livio Berruti won that race at the 1960 Games in Rome.
Even in a race with no clear favorites – American Ronnie Baker was a candidate and China’s Su Bingtain posted a shocking 9.83 in the semifinals – Jacobs was a surprise.
Jacobs edged American Fred Kerley and Canadian Andre DeGrasse to take the place Bolt had requisitioned since 2008.
“I really don’t know anything about him,” Kerley said of the new gold medalist. “He did a fantastic job. “
Jacobs’ victory came just moments after compatriot Gianmarco Tamberi tied Qatari high jump Mutaz Essa Barshim for gold in the high jump.
Tamberi, writhing on the ground, kicking in glee after his wild victory, was a man who needed someone to hug.
He found it when Jacobs, of all people, crossed the line first and celebrated by hopping into the arms of the broad-chested sprinter and wrapping his own arm around Jacobs’ bald head.
They weren’t the only ones celebrating the unexpected.
Earlier, Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas broke a 26-year-old world record in the triple jump with a jump of 51 feet 5 inches (15.67 meters).
The other gold medal of the day went to Gong Lijao of China, who beat American Raven Saunders of the United States. Saunders, who is black and gay, wears an “Incredible Hulk” mask when competing, closed the medal ceremony by raising her arms above her head and forming an “X” with her wrists.
“This is the intersection where all the oppressed people meet,” she explained.
Jacobs’ victory came later and left everyone outside of Italy – and maybe some in the country as well – blurting out a “Who?” Collective.
He was born in El Paso, Texas – the son of an American father and an Italian mother. He moved to Italy when he was young when the US military transferred his father to South Korea. He was a long jump specialist for years, and his greatest running success came in a 60-meter indoor title at the European Champions earlier this year.
His personal record was an Italian record of 9.95 seconds, set in May. It was the first time he broke 10 seconds.
Now he’s on the list along with Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Bolt – an Olympic 100-meter champion.
His path was made much easier when American Trayvon Bromell, who arrived in Tokyo with the best time in the world and as a favorite, didn’t even reach the final.
Bromell ran his semi in 9.996 seconds to finish third and said, “I’m not really sure what I could have done better, but the race went as the race went.