Lamont Marcell Jacobs wins gold, Fred Kerley of the USA takes silver and Canada de Andre de Grasse takes bronze.
Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the men’s 100m gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, breaking retired Jamaican star Usain Bolt’s 13-year-old hold on the event.
Jacobs (26) set a European record of 9.80 seconds, with American Fred Kerley taking silver in 9.84 seconds in one of the most underrated big 100m races in recent times.
Canada’s Andre de Grasse, a bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Games, repeated the feat in 9.89 seconds.
The athletes were featured in a dramatic light show – the stadium’s spotlights were turned off and 12 projectors cast 3D images of the world, zoomed in on the Tokyo skyline, and then the name of each sprinter.
The lights came on again, quickly followed by a terrible false start for Zharnel Hughes in lane four, the Anguilla-born Brit did not even bother to question his disqualification.
Dressed in a light blue ankle length and lycra shorts, the American-born Jacobs, in lane three, made a good start, keeping his nervousness through the driving phase and walking through the line.
Jacobs ran joyfully into the arms of Italian teammate Gianmarco Tamberi, who had just shared gold in the men’s high jump and was waiting at the finish line.
The race, which runs at a stifling temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), had a clear overwhelming build-up and was a hot favorite Trayvon Bromell who bombed out of the semi-finals in which China’s Su Bingtian and Jacobs unexpectedly Asia and European records respectively.
The Tokyo Olympics are the first since Athens in 2004 to take place without Bolt, who has won three consecutive Olympic 100m titles in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, as well as three consecutive 200m crowns.
And for the first time since the Sydney Games in 2000, there was no Jamaican in the final, Bolt’s former teammate Yohan Blake could not qualify from his semi-final.
The field was instead filled with a bunch of relatively unknown sprinters, with Jacobs’ biggest claim to announcing a 60m European indoor title earlier this year.
The 100 m in Tokyo and the circus around it were probably a pale imitation of Bolt’s glory years during which the charismatic Jamaican not only dominated the sprints but also enchanted a truly global audience.
Although the spectacle that Bolt has brought to the blue riband event has been lacking since retiring in 2017, the emergence of a new generation of sprinting hope has also emerged.
Many were praised as the athlete for filling Bolt’s nails, but no one still lived up to the considerable weight of expectation.
In addition, the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium in Tokyo has no fans due to coronavirus restrictions in the Japanese capital.
Instead, there were sparse pockets of athletes and team officials doing their best to create something of an atmosphere at what is normally one of the most anticipated events of the entire Games, hosting a large worldwide television audience.