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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.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 8, 2021 - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's players celebrate their victory in their women's gold medal volleyball match against Brazil during the Olympic Games at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images

🥇: U.S. clinches top Olympic gold spot after women's indoor volleyball team win

🏀: U.S. women's basketball scores 7th straight Olympic gold medal

🚴‍♀️: American Jennifer Valente wins final women's cycling gold of Tokyo Games

🤸🏿‍♀️: Biden lauds Biles for mental health "courage," praises Team USA in virtual meeting — Poll: Americans care about Olympians' mental health

🐎: Germany's modern pentathlon coach disqualified from Games for punching horse

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.

Biden sinks in swing districts

Photo: Biden speaks about wild fires and climate change in Sacramento on September 13, 2021. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/ AFP via Getty Images

Sudden doubts about President Biden's competence — on Afghanistan, immigration and COVID — are driving double-digit drops in his approval in private polling in swing House seats, The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter writes.

Why it matters: "[T]hese early mistakes go directly to the very rationale of his presidency; that it would be low drama and high competence."