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August 2, 2021

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Jacobs shocker in 100 as Su takes stride

Usain Bolt would not recognize what went down on the Olympic track he used to own.

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 jumping than outdoor sprints won the race that has long defined Olympic royalty.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Lamont Marcell Jacobs is The World’s Fastest Man.

The Italian crossed the line in 9.8 seconds last night, the first medal ever for the country 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 — US’s Ronnie Baker was a candidate and China’s Su Bingtian ran a shocking 9.83 in the semis— Jacobs was a surprise.

Jacobs topped America’s Fred Kerley and Canada’s Andre DeGrasse to take the spot Bolt had commandeered since 2008.

As the first Chinese ever to make it to the 100 final, Su, 31, finished sixth in 9.98. “After the semifinal, my strength had dropped significantly, so I just wanted to try my best in the final,” he said. But I set a small target for myself to complete the race within 10 seconds.”

Jacobs’ victory came only moments after his countryman, Gianmarco Tamberi, tied Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim for gold in the high jump.

Tamberi, writhing on the ground, kicking his feet up in jubilation after his crazy win, was a man in need of someone to hug. He found him when Jacobs, of all people, crossed the line first, and celebrated by jumping into the broad-chested sprinter’s arms.

Earlier, Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela broke a 26-year-old world record in the triple jump with a leap of 15.67 meters.

The Jacobs victory left everyone outside Italy — and maybe some in the country — letting out a collective “Who??

He was born in El Paso, Texas — the son of an American father and an Italian mother. He moved to Italy as a young boy when the US military transferred his dad to South Korea. He was a long-jump specialist for years, and his biggest major running success came in an indoor 60-meter title at European champions earlier this year.

His personal best was an Italian record, 9.95, set in May. It was the first time he’d broken 10. Now, he’s on the list with Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Bolt — an Olympic 100 champion.


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