Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs said he was on the beach watching the Olympics on TV when Usain Bolt burst onto the scene with his win in the 100-meter final in 2008.
Jacobs watched many of Bolt's races through the years, as the Jamaican became the face of the sport. Which makes it even more surreal that the crown now rests upon his own head.
Jacobs, who was born in Texas and moved to Italy as a child, got off to a good start in the men's 100-meter final and never let up to beat American Fred Kerley and Canadian Andre de Grasse to claim the title of Fastest Man in the World on a golden night for Italy at the Tokyo Olympics at National Stadium on Sunday.
His run came just minutes after fellow Italian Gianmarco Tamberi won a gold medal in the men's high jump.
"I had already seen Marco win in high jump and I thought, 'You can do it. You can win another gold medal,'" Jacobs said. "So I focused on myself, on my lane. I didn't look left, I didn't look right. I tried to just focus on my performance and run as fast as possible."
He set a new European record with a time of 9.80 seconds. Kerley, the silver medalist, finished in 9.84 and de Grasse, who made a late charge, took bronze in 9.89.
"I wasn't a favorite," Jacobs said. "I wasn't the one who everyone thought would win the gold medal."
The 26-year-old is the first 100-meter champion of the post-Bolt era and the first new winner in over a decade. Bolt, who retired in 2017, won the Olympic title in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Jacobs is also the first Italian man to win the 100 and first European since Great Britain's Linford Christie at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
"It's difficult to compare myself to him," Jacobs said. "He is actually the face of an entire era in athletics. He has changed athletics forever."
Jacobs let out a yell and slapped his chest after crossing the finish line and soon ended up in the waiting arms of Tamberi, who won his gold minutes earlier.
Their victories represent only the second time multiple Italians have won gold in athletics on the same day.
"Two gold medals in five minutes, I don't know what to say." Tamberi said. "Marcell was unbelievable."
Tamberi was actually the co-winner in the high jump with Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim. The two chose to share the gold rather than go to a jump-off after neither could clear 2.39 meters. They won with a height of 2.37.
"This is true sportsmanship," Barshim said. "This is the message we delivered to the young generation."
It's been a nice few weeks for Italy, with its soccer team also winning the Euro 2020 title on July 11.
Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela set the Olympic record in the women's triple jump on her first attempt of the night and established a new world record with her last jump.
"When I woke up this morning, I already knew today was going to be a good day," Rojas said. "I knew it, I felt it, it was there. I had a very positive vibe. I knew that today things could be great, could be big, I was going to write history today.
Rojas was already assured of gold before her final jump, so the only thing left was to go for the world record on her sixth attempt. She had been red-flagged on two of her previous attempts before finally recording a leap of 15.67 meters, far beyond the previous world record of 15.50, set by Inessa Cravats of Ukraine in 1995.
"I knew from the run," Rojas said. "I knew I couldn't miss that one. I knew it was in reach, I just had to correct some little details."
She became the first Venezuelan woman to win an Olympic gold medal and only the third Venezuelan overall. She took silver in the event in 2016 and is now the only person from her nation with multiple Olympic medals.
Portugal's Patricia Mamona took silver with a national record of 15.01, while Ana Peleteiro set the Spanish national record at 14.87.
China's Gong Lijiao won the women's shot put in the morning session, scoring 20.58 points on her sixth attempt. Raven Saunders, of the United States, placed second with 19.79.
Saunders, whose hair is dyed green and purple, raised her arms and made an 'X' above her head during the medal ceremony.
New Zealand's Valerie Adams took bronze with 19.62.
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