Updated Aug 2, 2021 - Sports

Olympic sprint champ Jacobs: Reconnecting with U.S. dad "gave me desire" to win

 Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's 100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 1
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's 100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

Driving the news: The 26-year-old athlete was born in El Paso to a U.S. serviceman father and Italian mother before moving to Italy with his mom as a baby. He's received encouraging messages since he reconnected with his Dallas-based father, Jacobs notes.

  • Jacobs' mental health coach told him "if you want to run fast, you need to get to a place that feels good for you with your father," he recalled.
  • "You are in your blood American ... and you need to speak with him to arrive at the Olympic Games and maybe win," he quoted the coach as saying.

The big picture: Sunday's race was the first Olympic men's 100m final since athletics great Usain Bolt retired.

  • Jacobs was a relative-unknown before he won the race, leaving American Fred Kerley with a silver medal and Canada’s Andre de Grasse with bronze.

Of note: Kerley told reporters he "didn't know nothing about" 26-year-old Jacobs before his win, while De Grasse said: "I thought my main competition would be the Americans ... he really shocked me and surprised me, so really congrats to him."

  • Even Jacobs seemed shocked by his win, describing the result as "incredible" and "like a dream."
  • "I think I need four or five years to realize and understand what's happening," he added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further comment from Jacobs on his father.

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