Deji Ogyingbo has been writing for RunBlogRun for about a month now. He writes twice a week, once on African athletics and once on global athletics. Once problem, I have been overwhelmed by regular life. Yes, I do things outside of editing RunBlogRun, selling sponsorships for RunBlogRun and the RunningNetwork. I will be able to catch up this week.

Thanks Deji! This column on Lamont Marcell Jacobs is superb. It should help you appreciate why we love Deji’s writing! Deji lives in Nigeria and has written for Making of Champions, the premier sport site in Africa.

Profile Picture.jpgDeji Ogeyingbo, photo courtesy of Deji Ogeyingbo.

Lamont Marcell Jacobs: Is he a one-season wonder?

The title of the World’s fastest man is one that is oftentimes given to the sprinter that emerges champion in the 100m at the Olympic Games at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games. Although, a shadow has been cast on that connotation, considering the World Record holder over the distance has the fastest ever recorded time in history.

2021 has thrown up a lot of surprises in the World of Sports and Track and Field has been no different. With various records being broken on the track too long-distance runners dropping incredible times, we are currently witnessing an unprecedented era in which athletes are reaching new heights in terms of individual times and personal achievement. One of those marks that sent shock waves down the spine of many was Lamont Marcell Jacobs claiming the men’s 100m title at the Tokyo Olympics.

1305690443.jpgLamont Marcell Jacobs winning the 2021 European Indoor Champs, 60m, photo courtesy of European Athletics / Getty Images

Jacobs a mixed-race Italian athlete, was not well-known heading into the Olympics but he emerged as the world’s top sprinter, with two gold medals. Rather startling was the fact that he wasn’t well known to the sprinting world, considering his Instagram handle still reads “Crazy Long Jumper”. Yes, until this season he was a devoted long jumper.

By the summer of 2020, Jacobs’ Season’s Best in the men’s 100m was 10.10, although he had a Personal Best of 10.03 from the previous year. That at the very least wasn’t even enough to see him qualify for the Olympics with the time set at 10.05. Yet, he kept on grinding and he knew he had to make a drastic decision if he wants to compete amongst the best in either the Long Jump or the short sprints. He and his coach Paolo Camossi resolved to stick to the latter.

“We quit long jump to be able to fully focus on 100m. Today, you can’t afford to specialise in one discipline, because the competition is too strong,” says Camossi.

Along with Camossi, Jacobs, who was born in El Paso, Texas, to an American father and Italian mother, hired a mental coach, Nicoletta Romanazzi, at the end of 2020. She convinced him, he said, that to get over the tension that deadened his legs before races- which had made him stay within the 10.10s zones, he had to build a relationship with the father who vanished in his infancy. They eventually had some phone conversations and exchanged text messages.

Heading into 2021, Jacob’s season started very early as he competed in the indoor circuit as he ran the 60m, winning all but two of his eleven races, capping it off with an outstanding victory at the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, clocking a new Personal Best of 6.47s. The time obliterated the Italian record in the process and it was the biggest recorded winning margin in the men’s 60m in the history of the European indoor championships.

What was to follow afterwards was nothing short of special.

Now, you can win a 100m race by getting sucked into the hype and the atmosphere and swashbuckling your way to victory, trading punches like a boxer. Or you can dominate and crush the other competitors with superior skill and individual talent, something Usain Bolt did throughout his career. Or you can also get the gold by having one of the best coaching setups drill you to perfect every flaw in your race. Believe it or not, that’s what got Jacobs the Olympic title.

The 100m is a discipline in which there is no margin for error, unlike in the jumps where the athlete has more attempts at winning. His coach began to work on Jacobs’ technique and biomechanics, with which Camossi is obsessed. Now, when Jacobs puts his foot on the ground, he breaks less than his competitors. And great results started to arrive.

“Jacobs could have run under 10 seconds as early as 2019, but lacked the ability to combine his qualities in the best possible way,” says Camossi. The potential was already there and while working on the sprint, excellent results came out, such as the great anchor he raced in the 4x100m relay final at the Yokohama World Championships, where he overtook the then 37-year-old but still competitive Justin Gatlin.

Before the Olympics though, Jacobs knew the men’s 100m this year was an open field with then defending Champion, Usain Bolt already retiring in 2017. He however still had to contend with the Americans in which some of their athletes like Trevon Bromell, Ronnie Baker, Fred Kerley were having an amazing year, but nothing close to special. He kept on putting in the grind.

It didn’t take long for him to dip inside 10s for the first time in his career as he clocked 9.95s in his home town Italy while competing at the Meeting International Città di Savona in May. He followed it up with a come couple of 10.0s runs in Italy and Poland, but his real test came in his first Diamond League of the season in Stockholm.

At the meet in Stockholm on 4th July, Jacobs ran the 100m in 10.05s (-0.8) and came second, behind American sprinter Ronnie Baker. Five days later, Jacobs dazzled in Monaco at the Herculis EBS stage of the annual Wanda Diamond League, as he finished third that night, in 9.99s, just behind Baker and South Africa’s Akani Simbine. It was the second time in his career that he’d run the 100m in under 10 seconds.

“This year’s goal was to increase the frequencies, while leaving the width of the stride unchanged, indeed tightening it,” says Camossi. “We have reached 4.57 movements per second and 45 [foot] supports.”

That ushered him into the Olympic Games and although he wasn’t seen as one of the favourites amongst the spectators, he laid down the gauntlet with a 9.94s clocking in the heats. In came the semis the next day and he completely shattered the European Record held by France’s Jimmy Vicaut, running 9.84s. With World leader, Bromell failing to make the final, it was all for the taking in the final.


Sticking to his coaching regime, Jacobs kept his nerves despite a false start in the race to emerge champion in a new Personal Best of 9.80s. The world at just witnessed an Italian become the fastest man in the World. Now, he was the cynosure of many eyes. The sprinting world took notice and a lot of persons expected him to cash in on his new fame.

Very rarely do we see an outsider pop up and claim one of the most coveted prizes in global sprinting. You will probably have to go back to the 2003 World Championships in Paris where Kim Collins emerged World Champion over the men’s 100m. Even at that, he’s had been ruffling feathers with some of the very best for a while.

Jacobs decided to take the rest of the year off to relax, to the bewilderment of many. Now to the difficult part, staying at the top. Can he dominate men’s springing for another three to four years? It’s hard to tell. However, with his coaching team still feeling he still has a lot of things to improve on in his race, the hunger to still lower his time will still be there.

It has been a very uncanny route to the top for Jacobs who is also a police officer in the Italian Police Force. Italy’s law enforcement agencies employ the country’s athletic talent, giving them salaries, training facilities — and weapons. It is atypical of other athletes who defer school scholarships to focus on being professionals. So don’t be surprised if he decides to quit the sport entirely. For now, though, the athletics world have to savour every moment he has to offer us.

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