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Usain Bolt’s absence for the first time since 2008 meant we were assured of a new champion in the men’s 100 meters. Even with Bolt’s electric presence missing and a fanless stadium in Tokyo, the 100 final did not disappoint.
The Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the first gold medal of his career in a breathtaking fashion, with a time of 9.80, a personal best and a European record. Jacobs becomes the first Italian to win gold at the Olympic Games in the 100 meters.
Fred Kerley of the United States won the silver with a time of 9.84. André de Grasse of Canada won the bronze medal with a time of 9.89.
To make the anticipation even greater before the start of the race, Briton Zharnel Hughes left the starting blocks early and was disqualified. This brought the field down to seven sprinters in an event where a case could be made for almost any competitor.
After the disqualification, the second start was clean, with Kerley and Jacobs doing the best off the blocks. Kerley, 26, appeared in reruns for a slight lead halfway through, but Jacobs took the lead in the final 20 yards for the clear victory. Immediately after winning, Jacobs clashed with compatriot Gianmarco Tamberi, who had chosen moments before to draw with Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar for the gold in the high jump.
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If you only logged in for the final, you were probably shocked to see US Olympic track and field trials champion Trayvon Bromell not at the start line. Bromell, who holds the fastest time in the world this year (9.77), ran a 10 flat in his semifinal – not fast enough to finish in the top two in the Heat and automatically advance him to the final. Nigerian Enoch Adegoke got the nod for second place in the Heat thanks to a better incline that edged Bromell by 0.004.
The third semi-final was the fastest, including victory for China’s Su Bingtian with an Asian record of 9.83, putting Bromell out of the race to advance to the single-time final. This left his American teammates Kerley and Ronnie Baker arguing for a medal without him.
Kerley has proven he can make the transition from 400m to 100m for this Olympic cycle. In 2019, he won a bronze medal in the 400-meter and contributed to the U.S. team’s 4×400-meter winning relay at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Doha, Qatar. This season he is focusing on the shorter sprint events. It opened 2021 with a time of 10.15 in March and lowered the mark to 9.86.
It was Baker’s first Olympics and he finished fifth in 9.95. In 2018, he won his first world championship medal when he finished third in the 60 meters at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, UK. hours earlier.
Sunday’s win is by far the most important for the 26-year-old, who also has a long jump background. Jacobs – who was born in El Paso, Texas, but has lived in Italy since he was a baby – has a silver medal in the 4×100-meter 2021 world relays and was European indoor champion this year in 60 meters.
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