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Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs claims shock 100m gold to succeed Usain Bolt as world's fastest man

Jacobs time of 9.80 seconds was a new European record.
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's 100m final during the Tokyo Games on Aug. 1, 2021.
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's 100m final on Sunday. Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs became the fastest man in the world when he took gold in the men's 100m final at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday — taking the spot held for the past 13 years by the now-retired Usain Bolt.

Setting a new European record in the process with a time of 9.80 seconds, Jacobs pushed U.S. sprinter Fred Kerley into second. Kerley's time of 9.84 was just 0.05 seconds quickly than Canada's Andre De Grasse who took Bronze.

A relative unknown, even in his home country, Jacobs was a long-jump specialist for years, and his biggest major success was an indoor 60-meter win at European champions.

"It's a dream, really, really fantastic," he told reporters after the event.

The son of an American father and an Italian mother, he was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Italy as a young boy when the U.S. military transferred his dad to South Korea.

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His path was made that much easier when American Trayvon Bromell, who came into Tokyo with the world's leading time and as the odds-on favorite, failed to make the final.

Jacobs’ victory marked a momentous occasion for Italy, who just minutes earlier celebrated high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi's gold medal. The pair embraced after the 100m race, holding their nation’s flag.

With less than two-tenths of a second separating all of the qualifying times from the men’s semifinals, there was no clear favorite to win.

China’s Su Bingtian who became the first Chinese man to reach the men’s 100m final was the fastest semifinalist with a time of 9.83 seconds — a new Asian record. But he could not emulate that in the final.

In the high jump, Tamberi shared gold with Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim. After letting loose with a primal scream Tamberi embraced his rival before running around the stadium in Tokyo.

At one point he picked up the shell of an old cast inscribed "Road to Tokyo 2020 2021." He also sobbed and rolled around on the track.