Lamont Marcell Jacobs, the Texas born, but Italian raised sprinter, took gold at the Tokyo Olympics and the unofficial title of fastest man in the world.
Jacobs dashed to an improbable win in the 100 meters, one of the glamour events at the Tokyo Olympics. American Fred Kerley, who also is a Texan, earned the silver medal. Canada’s Andre De Grasse was the bronze medalist.
So cue the screams of Grande Jacobs, Grande Italia, as you watch Jacobs sprint for the history books. He’s the first Italian ever to win this event.
Tokyo Olympics Started the Post Bolt Era
Jacobs’ win at the Tokyo Olympics opened a track chapter. Someone else other than Usain Bolt won a gold medal in the Olympics sprints. Bolt won eight gold medals in his Olympic career. Sunday’s race marked the first Olympics 100 meters final without him since 2004.
However, no one expected Jacobs to be the headline of track’s next sprinting story. After all, he was only 19th best at the last world championship in 2019. He ranked eighth in the world coming into Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Kerley rewrote his track career. The former Texas A&M standout whiffed at qualifying for the 2016 Olympic team to Rio in the 400 meters. But he shortened his distance and found silver. Kerley comes from a big, athletic family in Taylor, Texas, just outside Austin. His younger brother also ran track at Texas A&M. His cousin Jeremy Kerley is a former wide receiver in the NFL. In all, Kerley grew up with 12 brothers and sisters and was raised by his aunt.
Kerley led Sunday through the first half of the race. Then Jacobs kicked in another closing gear.
Most track experts projected another American on the medal podium. Trayvon Bromell was considered the medal favorite coming into the Tokyo Olympics. But Bromell, the former Baylor star, struggled in the 100 meter heats. He didn’t qualify for the finals. Christian Coleman, the defending world champion, wasn’t in the race, either. He’s serving a suspension for failing to show up for three drug tests.
For those keeping track of trends, no American has won gold in the 100 meters since Justin Gaitlin did so at the 2004 Athens Games.
Jacobs ran a time of 9.8. Here’s some context. He never dipped below 10 seconds until earlier this year. He’s also a former long jump champion in Italy. He literally is recreating himself.
Jacobs was born in El Paso. His dad was American, his mother Italian. His mother moved the family to Italy before Jacobs’ second birthday. He and his girlfriend now live in Rome.
Italians already were in a celebratory mood before the 100 meters. Minutes before the race, Gianmarco Tamberi tied for the gold medal in the high jump. Tamberi gave Jacobs a bear hug and wrapped him in the Italian flag.
The Tokyo Olympics, for a sliver of Sunday, was all about Grande Italia.