Tokyo Olympics: Jacobs drew strength from father to succeed Bolt as 100m king

By Sports Desk August 01, 2021

Marcell Jacobs credited re-establishing a relationship with his father as a key factor in him succeeding Usain Bolt as the Olympic 100 metres champion

Italy's Jacobs stormed to glory in Tokyo on Sunday, winning in a time of 9.80 seconds – breaking the European record of 9:84 he set a few hours earlier in his semi-final.

The 26-year-old, a converted long jumper who only broke the 10-second barrier for the first time in May, exploded out of the blocks to execute the perfect race – leading home Fred Kerley of the United States and Canada's Andre de Grasse, who repeated his bronze from the Rio Games.

The champion on that occasion, of course, was Bolt, and Jacobs conceded it was surreal to be following in the footsteps of an all-time great.

"I think it was 2008, I was on the beach and watched the Olympics on TV. Back then I wasn't really a professional athlete," he told reporters after a glorious night for Italy that also saw Gianmarco Tamberi - who embraced Jacobs at the finish line - claim joint-gold in the men's high jump.

"I think I can recall every race on Usain Bolt, it's incredible I'm here where he was before.

"What can I say it's difficult to compare myself to him. He is actually the face of an entire era of athletics, he changed athletics forever.

"I'm the one who won the gold medal after him, it's unbelievable. But drawing comparisons, I don't think that's the time yet we'll have to see how things pan out in the future."

In the immediate afterglow of his Tokyo triumph, Jacobs reflected on bridges built with his American father upon the advice of a therapist.

"She told me best thing to improve my performance was to establish a relationship with my father," he said.

"We hadn't talked in a long time, we got closer, it gave me energy and the will to do everything I did to be here today.

"I can try to run as fast as possible and, in the end, I was able to fulfil my dream, a dream since childhood. I've won the gold medal and run my best time ever."

In an unusual sequel to the logic-defying Bolt era, 400m specialist Kerley followed the ex-long jumper over the line in an event that had proved impossible to predict over the course of the weekend.

"I always got the last laugh because my decision is my decision, so you've got to keep working," Kerley said, having seen compatriot Trayvon Bromell – the fastest man in the world this year – fail to emerge from the semi-finals.

"Coming from 400 to not my event, coming away with the silver medal, I'm blessed with it."

For De Grasse, who also took bronze at the 2019 World Championships, where his 200m silver matched a second-place over that distance at Rio 2016, it was another near miss despite adding a further medal to his collection.

"I'm surprised a little bit by the time," he said after clocking a personal best. "It's crazy when everyone runs so fast - 9.80 from the Italian guy, I didn't expect that.

"I thought my main competition would have been the Americans, but definitely he came to play. He executed. He did his thing so congrats to him."

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