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Athletics: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs wins men's 100m gold at Olympics

Athletics: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs wins men's 100m gold at Olympics

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates after winning the men's 100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Aug 1, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Giuseppe Cacace)

TOKYO: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs outshone a field of unusual suspects to claim a shock Olympic gold in the men's 100m on Sunday (Aug 1), breaking retired Jamaican star Usain Bolt's 13-year hold on the blue riband event.

Jacobs, 26, timed a European record of 9.80s, becoming the first Italian to take the most coveted title in athletics. 

American Fred Kerley took silver in a personal best of 9.84s while Canada's Andre de Grasse, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Games, repeated the feat in 9.89s.

The athletes were introduced in a dramatic light show - the stadium floodlights were shut off and 12 projectors cast 3D images of the world, zooming in to the Tokyo skyline, and then the name of each sprinter.

The lights came back on, swiftly followed by a horrendous false start for Zharnel Hughes in lane four, the Anguilla-born Briton not even bothering to question his disqualification.

Dressed in light blue singlet and lycra shorts, the US-born Jacobs, in lane three, made a good start, held his nerve through the drive phase and powered through to the line.

Lamont Marcell Jacobs, of Italy, wins the final of the men's 100-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

"It's been my dream since I was a child," said Jacobs, who was born in the United States but moved to Europe with his Italian mother when he was a month old.

"I need a week or so to understand what has happened. Seeing (compatriot) Gimbo (Tamberi) win the high jump gold (10 minutes earlier) fired me up a lot.

"I've won an Olympic gold after Usain Bolt, it's unbelievable. Tonight, staring at the ceiling perhaps I will realise."

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs was a surprise winner of the Olympic men's 100 metres AFP/Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

Jacobs joyously ran into the arms of Italian teammate Gianmarco Tamberi, who had just shared gold in the men's high jump and was waiting at the finish line.

High jump gold medalist Gianmarco Tamberi, left, of Italy, congratulates compatriot Lamont Marcell Jacobs, after he won the final of the men's 100-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The race, run in stifling temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, had a distinctly underwhelming build-up and feel to it as hot favourite Trayvon Bromell bombed out of the semi-finals in which China's Su Bingtian and Jacobs unexpectedly set Asian and European records respectively.

The Tokyo Olympics are the first since Athens in 2004 to take place without Bolt, who went on to win three consecutive Olympic 100m titles in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, as well as three straight 200m crowns.

And for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games, there was no Jamaican in the final, Bolt's long-time former teammate Yohan Blake failing to qualify from his semi-final.

READ: Athletics: China's Su Bingtian makes 100m final, first Asian man in 89 years

The field was instead filled with a raft of relatively unknown sprinters, with Jacobs' main claim to fame a European 60m indoor title earlier this year.

The 100m in Tokyo, and the circus around it, has arguably been a pale imitation of Bolt's glory years during which the charismatic Jamaican not only dominated the sprints but also captivated a truly global audience.

While the spectacle that Bolt brought to the blue riband event has been missing since his retirement in 2017, so also has been the emergence of a new generation of sprinting hopes.

Many have been lauded as the athlete to fill Bolt's spikes, but no one has yet lived up to the considerable weight of expectation.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Men's 100m - Final - OLS - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2021. Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy celebrates after winning gold REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Added to that, the 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Tokyo had no cheering fans because of coronavirus restrictions in the Japanese capital.

Instead there were sparse pockets of athletes and team officials who did their best to create something of an atmosphere at what is normally one of the most widely anticipated events of the entire Games, commanding a huge worldwide television audience.

Catch the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 LIVE with 14 dedicated channels on meWATCH. Sign in now at mewatch.sg/tokyo2020 and get into the action with Mediacorp, Singapore’s Olympics Network. 

Source: AGENCIES/jt

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