Marcell Jacobs will be among the Italian athletes walking behind flag bearers Arianna Errigo and Gianmarco Tamberi at the Paris Games opening ceremony but he hopes successfully defending his 100m title could land him the honour in four years’ time.
Jacobs, who became first Italian to win the men’s 100m in Tokyo and also won gold in the 4x100m relay, is set to compete at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meet in Ostrava today and the Oslo Diamond League two days later.
Jacobs, who clocked a season’s best time of 10.07 seconds to win the 100m at the Roma Sprint Festival earlier this month, told Italian daily La Stampa that he would have loved to have carried the flag in Paris.
“I would have been super happy, there was a lot of competition and Gimbo (Tamberi) is the captain of athletics, he has won everything, he is a motivator and he will certainly know how to play the role,” he said. “I will have to win again in Paris to put myself forward for Los Angeles 2028.”
The 29-year-old has endured a series of injury issues since his Tokyo triumph in 2021. He split with long-time coach Paolo Camossi at the end of his 2023 season, the Italian now training under American coach Rana Reider in Jacksonville.
“No Italian had ever reached an Olympic final in the 100 metres and to take our country where it had never been is crazy,” said Jacobs, who told the newspaper that one of his goals was still to go into space one day.
“There, in the territory that the Americans identify as almost private property, where we saw (Usain) Bolt (dominate), it really is like ‘a space trip’.
“I would really like to be able to see the Earth from the outside, the goal is concrete and remains.”
Asked about the World Athletics’ (WA) plan to offer prize money to Olympic gold medallists in Paris and the criticism that it went against the Olympic spirit, Jacobs said it was right that athletes were getting the recognition they deserved.
“Looking at it that way doesn’t work, then there are disciplines like tennis and football where you stay at a high level five or six years and you’re good forever, you and your children,” he said.
“No, it’s right to give us the recognition we can, to grow up, I feel a different interest in athletics: the Netflix series dedicated to sprinters that is about to come out proves it.”
Jacobs and Andre De Grasse, the reigning Olympic 200m champion, said they relished “sharing every moment” as they compete with each other during joint training sessions.
The Florida-based group also includes American Trayvon Bromell and Japanese sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown.
“It’s amazing because in Rome I always worked alone,” Jacobs told reporters ahead of today’s Golden Spike meet in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava. “Now I am in a group so everything has changed... you have competition every day,” added the 29-year-old Olympic 100 metres and 4x100m relay champion.
“For me it’s very important, working with Andre is a lot of fun, we can share every moment. I like it a lot,” Jacobs said.
De Grasse, the reigning Olympic 200m champion and who took bronze behind Jacobs in the 100m, said he liked “to feed off the competition”.
Jacobs “has come to Florida for five or six months, now I’m going to Italy where he’s at home to train with,” added the 29-year-old De Grasse, identifying himself as a spaghetti carbonara fan.
They will be training in the central Italian town of Rieti.
“Rome is not too far, it’s one of my favourite cities... and now it will be easier for me to go to competitions in Europe and not be too jetlagged and tired going into meets,” said De Grasse.
Before the Olympic Games start in July, Jacobs is due to defend his European 100m title in Rome next month.
De Grasse said he would be in the stands to cheer for his teammate. “I want to go. He told me he runs on Saturday so we won’t have training that day,” he added.
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