AP Interview: Italy coach says Jacobs can run much faster

Aug 1, 2021, 2:42 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2021, 3:18 am

TOKYO (AP) — The 26-year-old Texas-born Italian sprinter who surprised everyone by winning the 100 meters at the Tokyo Olympics might just be getting started.

Antonio La Torre, the head coach of Italy’s track and field team, believes Marcell Jacobs can run as fast as few men besides Usain Bolt ever have.

“With his infinite talent I dare to say that he’s a man who can run close to 9.70 — or maybe even faster,” La Torre told The Associated Press on Monday, a day after Jacobs registered a personal-best 9.80 seconds to succeed Bolt as Olympic champion, otherwise known as The World’s Fastest Man.

La Torre pointed out that the final was held about 2 ½ hours after Jacobs clocked 9.84 in his semifinal heat.

“In the final third of (his semifinal), Jacobs clocked a top speed of 43.3 kph (26.9 mph) that was faster than anyone all night,” La Torre said.

After a masterful start in the final, Jacobs looked around in the last meters to make sure nobody was near and slowed down slightly.

“If he had pushed the entire way, he could have run 9.78,” La Torre said.

Besides Bolt, who holds the world record of 9.58, only Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake have ever run under 9.70.

And to think that until a few years ago, Jacobs was primarily a long jumper. A series of injuries affecting his left knee — the one he pushes off on in long jump — prompted Jacobs to switch his focus to purely sprints.

“Unfortunately his knees are too fragile to handle the takeoffs in the long jump,” La Torre said. “He would have been a gold-medal contender in the long jump, too. But he got injured every time.”

Jacobs’ Instagram handle remains “crazylongjumper.”

Even Jacobs’ personal coach, Paolo Camossi, is a jumping specialist.

Camossi won the triple jump at the world indoor championships in 2001 with a rare victory over then-Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards of Britain.

“They created a really efficient symbiosis. Paolo really developed, too,” La Torre said. “He studied and consulted with a lot of other coaches and eventually he was able to get the most out of Marcell’s enormous motor.”

Jacobs qualified for the 100 semifinals at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar; won gold in the 60 meters at the European Indoors in March of this year in an Italian-record 6.47 seconds; helped Italy to a silver medal in the 4×100-meters at the world relays championships in May; but still wasn’t even considered a medal contender in Tokyo.

He hadn’t cracked 10 seconds until this year, and that raised some questions on social media about Jacobs’ recent improvements.

“I understand these questions,” La Torre said, “because, unfortunately, it’s always like that,”

La Torre, who is also a university professor in Milan specializing in sports science, said Jacobs worked “like a maniac” on all aspects of his racing entering the Games.

The coach added that part of Jacobs’ training regime involved working out three times a week at the team’s Olympic training center in Rome on a specially outfitted track that features electronic sensors recording every single aspect of his movement — acceleration, speed, number and frequency of strides, reaction time and much more.

And the team has all of Jacobs’ data stored away.

“Whoever wants to see it is welcome,” La Torre said.

The speculation was merely an afterthought for a team still celebrating its greatest night in Olympic history.

That’s because moments before Jacobs won his race, Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi won gold in his event in a tie with Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar.

Jacobs and Tamberi celebrated by eating dinner together at 4 a.m. on Monday, La Torre said.

It’s been quite a turnaround for a team that failed to win a single medal in track and field at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

La Torre was hired soon after the Rio Games to replace Italy’s previous head coach, Elio Locatelli.

Jacobs will return to the track later this week as a member of Italy’s 4×100-meter relay team with Filippo Tortu — who became the first Italian to run under 10 seconds three years ago with a 9.99 — plus Lorenzo Patta and Fausto Desalu.

“It could be a very competitive relay. We’re just aiming to get into the final,” La Torre said. “Then in the final anything can happen.”

Jacobs, as the world has just seen, already knows that.


More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

UK police chiefs apologize to Hillsborough disaster families

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s police chiefs promised a “cultural change” on Tuesday as they apologized to families of the victims in the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, the U.K.’s worst sports disaster which saw 97 people killed during a crush of soccer fans at an overcrowded stadium. “For what happened, as a senior policing leader, I profoundly […]
1 day ago
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce celebrates after the NFL AFC Championship playoff footbal...
Associated Press

Brother vs brother: Kelces prepare for Super Bowl showdown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Donna Kelce is going to have to pull out that now-familiar custom jersey — the one with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s front stitched to Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce’s back — one more time this season. At least this time, she’ll get to see her boys in […]
1 day ago
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) walks back to the sidelines during the second half of...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL wasn’t at its best in conference championships

The NFL didn’t put on its Sunday best for the conference championships. Before the San Francisco 49ers ran out of luck and quarterbacks, they were burned by a fourth-down catch by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devonta Smith that wasn’t even a catch. Although Kyle Shanahan could have thrown a challenge flag, the league’s replay assist […]
1 day ago
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, drives to the basket on Atlanta Hawks center Cli...
Associated Press

Lillard scores 42 as Trail Blazers hold off Hawks 129-125

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 42 points, Anfernee Simons hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 34 seconds left and the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Atlanta Hawks 129-125 on Monday night. Dejounte Murray had 40 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Hawks, who played without star point guard Trae Young (ankle). […]
1 day ago
Baylor guard Keyonte George (1) looks for the basket past Texas guard Arterio Morris (2) during the...
Associated Press

Rice, Allen lead No. 10 Texas over No. 11 Baylor 76-71

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sir’Jabari Rice scored 21 points and Timmy Allen added 18 to send No. 10 Texas to a 76-71 win over No. 11 Baylor on Monday night, ending the Bears’ six-game win streak and keeping the Longhorns in a share of first place in the Big 12. Rice made four 3-pointers in […]
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson, right, drives against Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, le...
Associated Press

Bridges scores 29, Suns pull away late, beat Raptors 114-106

PHOENIX (AP) — Deandre Ayton had to do a double-take in the final minutes as his Phoenix Suns pulled away for another win. His eyes weren’t playing tricks. That was Mikal Bridges getting big mid-range buckets during crucial possessions in the fourth quarter, not injured All-Star guard Devin Booker. Bridges had one of his best […]
1 day ago
AP Interview: Italy coach says Jacobs can run much faster