By Rob Woollard | AFP
ON THE WEB, 2 August 2021
Lamont Marcell Jacobs stormed to a shock victory in the Olympics 100m final on Sunday to cap a golden double for Italy on a dramatic day of athletics action at the Tokyo Games.
Jacobs became the first Italian in history to be crowned champion in the blue riband event of the Olympic track and field programme after powering home in a blistering 9.80sec.
Fred Kerley of the United States took silver in 9.84sec and Canada’s Andre de Grasse bronze in 9.89sec.
The 26-year-old Jacobs erupted as he crossed the finish line and leapt into the arms of compatriot Gianmarco Tamberi, who only moments earlier had clinched a rare shared gold medal for Italy in the high jump after a duel with Qatari world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim.
It was the final act of a pulsating day three of track and field at the Olympic Stadium which also saw a brilliant world record-breaking gold medal victory in the triple jump for Venezuela’s two-time world champion Yulimar Rojas.
But the undisputed headline-grabbing performance of the night belonged to Italy’s Jacobs, who had never previously gone under 10 seconds before the 2021 season.
The muscular El Paso, Texas-born sprinter had only finished third in his semi-final earlier on Sunday, clocking 9.84sec behind China’s Su Bingtian and Ronnie Baker of the US to qualify for the final as one of the two fastest losers.
But in the final he roared from the blocks, hit the front at around the 50-metre mark and then held on to become the first Olympic 100m gold medallist of the post-Usain Bolt era.
“It’s incredible,” Jacobs said afterwards. “My dream was to arrive here and run a final. We run a final and we win a final.”
Jacobs said his dramatic improvement in times this season had been down to improvements in training, diet and mentality.
“I really work hard with my mind,” Jacobs told AFP. “Because when I was arriving at the big moment my legs don’t work too good. Now my legs go really good when it’s a big moment.
“We changed the starts. And we work mentality. Mentality, good food, good physiotherapy.”
After crossing the line Jacobs was greeted by high jumper Tamberi, who had clinched a share of the gold medal with Barshim minutes earlier.
Both men hugged after settling for gold having both recorded a best clearance of 2.37 metres.
“This is a dream I don’t want to wake up from,” said Barshim. “But we are here today sharing this moment and all the sacrifices. It’s really worth it now in this moment.”
In the triple jump meanwhile, Rojas did her best to electrify a largely empty stadium with a scintillating world record with her last leap of 15.67m, smashing the previous best of 15.50m set by Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets 26 years ago.
“I am lost for words, I can’t describe this feeling and this moment,” Rojas said.
“Gold medal winner, with an Olympic record, and a world record … Wow. It is a fantastic night.”
It was the first world record of the Tokyo athletics programme.
Portugal’s Patricia Mamona won silver with a national best of 15.01m, while Spain’s Ana Peleteiro jumped 14.87m.
Earlier Sunday, China’s Gong Lijao claimed gold in the women’s shot put after leading the competition from start to finish.
Gong sealed her win with a personal best of 20.58 metres on her sixth and final attempt having led from her opening effort of 19.95m.
American Raven Saunders took silver with 19.79m, while New Zealand veteran Valerie Adams, in her fifth Olympics, was delighted as she claimed bronze with 19.62 to go with golds in 2008 and 2012, and silver in 2016.
It marked the end of a long journey to gold for the 32-year-old Gong, a bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and a silver medallist four years later in London.
In the women’s 100m hurdles semi-finals, Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn set an Olympic record to qualify for Monday’s final with a superb display of technique and power.
Camacho-Quinn surged home in 12.26sec, smashing Sally Pearson’s previous Olympic record set in 2012 of 12.35sec.
The 24-year-old’s performance suggested that world record holder Keni Harrison may once again be kept waiting for her first major outdoor title.
The American favourite finished second in her heat in 12.51sec, trailing Jamaica’s Britany Anderson (12.40sec).
In the opening rounds of the men’s 400m, world champion Stephen Gardiner of the Bahamas and American Michael Cherry led a host of contenders into Monday’s semi-finals of what promises to be an ultra-competitive race.
In the 400m hurdles semi-final, world champion Karsten Warholm qualified safely for the final along with US rival Rai Benjamin.