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There's a New, Surprising World's Fastest Man

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs, a former long jumper, wins gold in 100-meter sprint
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2021 12:00 PM CDT
Former Long Jumper Becomes World's Fastest Man
Lamont Marcell Jacobs, right, wins the men's 100-meter final Sunday in Tokyo. Fred Kerley, left, the US, won silver.   (Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP)

(Newser) – In a field without a clear favorite or the star power of recent Games, Lamont Marcell Jacobs still managed to stun the Olympics with his victory Sunday in the 100-meter dash. The Italian sprinter, who focused for years on the long jump, posted a winning time of 9.8 seconds to claim the informal title of "world's fastest man," the Guardian reports. The title had been held through the last three Olympics by Usain Bolt; this was the first 100-meter final since he retired, and Jacobs beat Bolt's 2016 winning time by 0.01 seconds. "It was my childhood dream to win an Olympic Games," said Jacobs, 26. "And obviously, a dream can turn into something different, but to run this final and win it is a dream come true." Not only was it Jacobs' night, it was Italy's: Gianmarco Tamberi had won a gold medal in the high jump minutes earlier and rushed over to embrace Jacobs. Italy had never won a medal in the 100 meters before.

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On a humid, 86-degree night, Jacobs caught a break at the beginning. He was the last runner out of the blocks but got another chance when Britain's Zharnel Hughes was disqualified for a false start, per CNN. It went better the next time, and Jacobs beat American Fred Kerley by 0.04 seconds and Canadian Andre De Grasse by 0.09 seconds. All three times were personal bests for the competitors. Like many others, Kerley said he "really didn't know anything about" Jacobs, adding, "He did a fantastic job." Jacobs was born in Texas and moved to Italy as a child. After the race, the Italian athletes and officials watching burst into song in his honor. Kerley said he ran as well as he could and had no complaints. "The race was a beautiful race," the American said. "I got a PB (personal best) and a silver medal. I am blessed to be at the biggest stage of my career." (Read more 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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