Jacobs Keeps His Cool To Retain European 100m Title

Jacobs keeps his cool to retain European 100m title

Olympic champion leads Italian one-two in Rome, while Britain’s Romell Glave lands his first major honour

A number of false starts might have threatened to derail the showpiece event of day two at the European Championships, but Saturday night (June 8) ended with Marcell Jacobs delivering the 100m gold medal the home crowd had come to see.

Jacobs

The Olympic champion, defending the continental crown he had won in 2022, could potentially have been knocked off course by a commotion that began at the semi-final stage and meant lengthy waits for the competitors but, when he was given a clear run at long last, the 29-year-old kept his cool in the Roman heat to clock 10.02 (0.7), his fastest time of the year, and managed to hold off compatriot Chituru Ali (10.05), while Romell Glave captured Great Britain’s second medal of the championships in third place with 10.06.

The top three, in that order, were the fastest trio going into a competition that went to form and Jacobs is gradually beginning to bring his times down following a couple of injury disrupted years.

However, in a recent interview with AW, he said: “Times don’t matter. What counts is the medal.” This one will have been particularly sweet, not just because of where he won it, at an Olympic Stadium that rocked despite being barely half full, but also because of some of the off-track tribulations that have followed him since he shocked the world by becoming the first Italian ever to win Olympic 100m gold.

At the time, there was first scepticism that a man who had only just broken the 10-second barrier for the first time that season could then smash the European record with 9.80. Subsequently, Jacobs’ association with nutritionist Giacomo Spazzini, who was implicated in a police investigation into the distribution of steroids, created difficult questions. Spazzini was cleared in a criminal court but reportedly handed a 15-year doping ban that was later rescinded on appeal. Jacobs was never suspected of wrongdoing.

More recently, a move to start working with coach Rana Reider, who was given a one-year probation in May of last year after he “acknowledged a consensual romantic relationship with an adult athlete, which presented a power imbalance” raised further eyebrows.

Jacobs’ new training environment, alongside the likes of Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse and American Trayvon Bromell, seems to be agreeing with him, however, and the Italian was serene in his triumph on Saturday night (June 8).

It was an achievement made all the more impressive for a semi-final stage that was borderline shambolic as the opening heat that featured Glave saw a yellow card being shown to Markus Fuchs after the Austrian disturbed the start. However, the recall gun did not fire until the race was well underway, Fuchs and Italy’s Matteo Melluzzo didn’t even hear it and sprinted all out through to the finish line. To give them at least some recovery time, heat one was instead moved to the last of three.

The second semi saw Ali win in 10.11, while Jacobs then had to handle a long delay because of the events unfolding in a brilliant long jump competition before clocking 10.05 in winning the next race in which Britain’s CJ Ujah was only able to finish fifth. After another false start, this time from Poland’s Oliwer Wdowik, that opening heat  finally took place and was won by Glave in 10.11. “It was a rough path,” said the Briton.

When it came to the final, it was Ali’s turn to receive a yellow card, the bubble of anticipation that had built in the stadium quickly burst by the recall gun this time.

There were no issues with the second attempt, Glave second-fastest out of the blocks but closely followed by Jacobs, who took little time in establishing a lead he clung to as the pressure was applied.

With British record-holder Zharnel Hughes and Jeremiah Azu withdrawing from these championships, Glave seized his opportunity. He was born in Jamaica but moved to the UK when he was 17 and the now 24-year-old sees his first major senior medal as simply the next step on his journey.

“I had to reset mentally just to be able to perform at my best,” he said. “I’m a bronze medallist, so I’m happy but I’m still not satisfied.”

The performances of Jacobs and Ali were far from being the only reasons for the Italian public to be cheerful. As Leonardo Fabbri and Mattia Furlani shone in the field, so Lorenzo Simonelli also stood out on the track as he flew to a European leading time of 13.05 (0.6) in winning the 110m hurdles.

The world indoor 60m hurdles silver medallist in Glasgow earlier this year was a convincing winner in another final afflicted by a false start, Spain’s Enrique Llopis being yellow-carded but still taking second place in a PB of 13.16. Swiss athlete Jason Joseph was third in 13.43.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, France’s Cyrena Samba-Mayela clocked 12.31 (0.8) to break the championships record that had stood since 1986 in taking the title, while runner-up – Switzerland’s Ditaji Kambundji – set a European under-23 record with 12.40 to edge the PB of 12.42 run by defending champion Pia Skrzyszowska of Poland. Britain’s Cindy Sember finished just outside of the medals in fourth with 12.56.

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