Tokyo — Marcell Jacobs won the men’s Olympic 100-meter race Sunday night, crossing the line in 9.8 seconds to bring the marquee sprint gold to Italy for the first time.
Even in a race with no clear favourites, Jacobs was a surprise. He topped America’s Fred Kerley and Canada’s Andre DeGrasse to take the spot held for the past 13 years by the now-retired Usain Bolt.
Jacobs’ victory came only moments after his countryman, Gianmarco Tamberi, tied Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim for gold in the high jump.
Earlier, Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela broke a 26-year-old world record in the triple jump with a leap of 51 feet, 5 inches, or 15.67 meters.
The Jacobs victory left everyone outside Italy — and maybe some in the country, as well — letting out a collective “Who?” He was born in El Paso, Texas — the son of an American father and an Italian mother.
He moved to Italy as a young boy when the U.S. military transferred his dad to South Korea. He was a long-jump specialist for years, and his biggest major success was an indoor 60-meter win at European champions.
Now, he’s on the same list with Bolt — an Olympic sprint champion.