The Tokyo Olympics has had tremendously exciting and emotional events each and every day! Within ten minutes, Gianmarco Tiamberi tie ed for gold in the High Jump, and LaMont Marcel Jacobs won the 100 Meters. I wonder what our dear friend Franco Fave, himself, an Olympian, and a respected journalist (albeit emeritus now) in Italy would have to say about that tremendous ten minutes?
Stuart Weir focuses, in this article, on the Men’s 100 meters and the surprises that came on all sides!
With Usain Bolt retired, we knew there would be a new winner of the 100m. It seemed an open contest. The women’s 100 had been such a great race that the men’s was going to have to be special to match it. It was.
The semi-finals set it up wonderfully with three runners clocking 10 seconds exactly and a further 7 under the 10-second mark. Trayvon Bromell had entered the Olympics as many people’s favorite but after almost exiting in the prelims, he failed to make the final, perhaps making it even more open. Two false starts by Reece Prescod in the semis and Zharnel Hughes in the final added to the intrigue. The was a truly international line-up in the final: two Americans, a Canadian, two Africans, an Asian and two Europeans.
Based on the new world rankings the outcome should have been
1 Akani Simbine 2 Ronnie Baker 3 Zharnel Hughes 4 Andre de Grasse
But if sport was predictable, no one would we watch it!
The actual finishing positions were
1 Lamont Jacobs (Italy) 9.80
2 Fred Kerley (USA) 9.84
3 Andre de Grasse (Canada) 9.89
4 Akani Simbine (South Africa) 9.93
5 Ronnie Baker (USA) 9.95
6 Bingtan Su (China) 9.98
Enoch Adegoke (Nigeria) did not finish. Zharnel Hughes (GB) false-started.
Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia in the first six. The Olympic 100m really is a global event.
The first person to congratulate Lamont Jacobs was Gianmarco Tamberi, who had just secured joint gold in the high jump to make it a double golden evening for Italy – let the pizza and pasta flow.
The first question we have to address is who on earth is Lamont Jacobs? He is the son of an Italian mother and an African American father, a serving US soldier. He was born in El Paso, Texas 26 years ago but moved to Italy with his mom when he was 10. He is also an 8m long-jumper.
I first recall seeing him run when he was second in the European Team Championships in Poland in 2019. He was impressive on the indoor circuit this year culminating in a win in the European Indoors. But it is a far cry from 60 meters in Poland to an Olympic 100m final in Tokyo.
His reaction to the win was understandably incoherent! “I don’t know, it’s a dream, a dream, it is fantastic. Maybe tomorrow I can imagine what they are saying, but today it is incredible. It was my childhood dream to win an Olympics Games and obviously, a dream can turn into something different, but to run this final and win it is a dream come true. Being here together with Gianmarco is something spectacular. I believe in him and believed in myself”. He also paid tribute to his mom “who has been my No.1 fan since I was a child”.
Then what can we say about Fred Kerley? I know Fred a little and I certainly expected him to make the US Olympic team but not in the 100. A world-class quarter-miler who turned himself into a sprinter! Kerley had never run faster than 10.49 in the 100m coming into 2021 before putting together a remarkable string of performances with eight sub-10 races. I understand that 9.84 is the second fastest Olympic silver time in history.
Kerley commented: “I executed the race perfectly and I came up with a silver medal. I can’t complain. The race was a beautiful race. I got a PR and a silver medal. I am blessed to be at the biggest stage of my career.”
Incidentally, we can be forgiven for not knowing much about the winner. Fred was asked about him and replied: “I really didn’t know anything about him” adding that he had only run against him once previously”.
A friend of mine calls major championships “four funerals and a wedding” and there were certainly a number of athletes will feel they could have done better. We can start with the British pair who were DQed in the semi-final and final. Ronnie Baker and Bingtian Su each ran 9.83 in the semis but could not do so in the final.
But at the end of the day, Lamont Jacobs is the Olympic Champion at 100m. To rule on whether he is recorded as the 2020 or 2021 Olympic is above my pay grade