Lamont Jacobs, a flying Italian on the throne of Usain Bolt


BarcelonaWithout Usain Bolt, the Jamaicans have elegantly pulled away from the 100-meter freestyle final. As if after three consecutive Bolt gold medals, the Caribbean would accept the need to share joys. What they probably didn’t expect is that the new champion would be a European, Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs. The first athlete on the old continent to win the 100 meters in decades, as the last to do so was the British Linford Christie in 1992.

Jacobs has given Italian athletics a night of glory that will be remembered for years and years. A few decades from now, having a coffee in the bar in the square, the Italians will still remember that Japanese night when in 5 minutes, they won two gold medals. First, Gianmarco Tamberi in the high jump. A Tamberi waiting at the end of the track to watch the 100m final, to hug Jacobs. American surname, but an Italian life, his. In fact, he is ashamed to admit that he doesn’t quite speak English very well, with that American name he has. His accent is from northern Italy, his homeland. His mother, a 16-year-old teenager, fell in love in Vicenza with an American soldier assigned to the United States base in that town. They met dancing hip hop. And they married three months later, moving to El Paso, Texas, where Jacobs was born. A love as fast as her son’s legs.

When she was months old, the mother decided to return to Italy alone, as her husband was sent to South Korea and they fought. They separated. And Jacobs grew up unaware of his father, until he contacted him on Facebook when he was already winning medals. “At first I didn’t want to know anything about him, but after working with psychologists, I replied. And at some point I’ll go see him,” explained an athlete who dreamed of being a basketball player, first. In fact, despite his mother’s effort, Jacobs was a young man who felt lost. He practiced many sports, he made mistakes. One of them, a romantic relationship that did not end well, when he had already been a father at 19 years old. As if following in the footsteps of the missing father, with whom he shares a name.

But the athletics coaches in the village where he grew up, Desenzano del Garda, recommended him to a club in Gorizia. And they told him he had more future running. Restless as he was, Jacobs needed more. So he began to make a long jump, breaking the Italian record in a few years and leaving for Rome, where to have stability, he entered the athletic body of the Police, a very normal practice in Italy, where he was part of this body allows athletes to focus on workouts. Jacobs started breaking records. He married for the second time, now with his head centered thanks to working with psychologists. When jut before the coronavirus was injured, he ended up in a rural northern area recovering, where he trained with Nordic ski poles between vineyards. It was a time of peace before madness.

In May 2021, after a pandemic that happened in Rome with his wife and daughters, Jacobs broke the Italian record in the 100 meters, going down for the first time in 10 seconds. A progression that has not stopped until today, when he set a new European record (9.84) in a semifinal where he was overtaken by the amazing Chinese Su Bingtian. The stage was complicated, with no spectators and too much humidity. And without a clear favorite to wear Bolt’s crown on his head. In fact, the man who came in with the best mark, Trayvon Bromell, has been left out of the final by a thousandth. He relaxed a bit and as he crossed the line, he had scored the same time as Nigerian Enoch Adegoke, 10.00. The judges, however, used the technology to analyze well what had happened, to discover that the Nigerian had entered a thousandth ahead.

In the final, Jacobs saw British Briton Zharnel Hugues disqualified for a false start. He was the man he had on the left, so he lost a clear reference. But if in the semifinals the Italian came out slow, in the final he was plugged in, always staying second until imposing his final sprint. And the gold hung in lane two with a time of 9.80, beating the American Fred Kerlei (9.84) and the Canadian André De Grasse (9.89). 41 years after the last great success of an Italian sprinter, the 200 meters won by Pietro Mennea in Moscow, Italian speed has gone further than ever. Jacobs, too.


Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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