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Jacobs aims to recapture Tokyo heights with world championships looming

Lamont Marcell Jacobs told AFP he wants to prove that his shock Olympic 100 metres triumph was no fluke as he gears up for this year’s indoor and outdoor world championships.

The Italian sprinter said in an interview that he was “getting back in shape” after his recent return to competition more than six months after pulling off that stunning victory at the Tokyo Games.

“I would like to run every two days,” said 27-year-old Jacobs.

“My aim is above all to try to win everything possible to maintain the standard I set in Tokyo.” 

Jacob’s return has dredged up suspicions that doping played a part in his sudden success — and questions about why he skipped the rest of the season after his Tokyo glory.

He won Olympic gold in 9.80sec, a rapid improvement. He had never broken 10 seconds before 2021.

He brushed off the misgivings, in particular from media outside Italy, which have dogged him since his stunning victory.

“After a certain point, continuing to talk about it (doping) is quite sad on their part,” Jacobs tells AFP.

“It’s not my fault that they’re not able to understand that someone other than the favourite won. It’s not OK, especially as they don’t have any kind of proof.”

Jacobs says his long break was due to his desire to avoid injury after a long season leading up to the Olympics.

Now he is looking forward to the two world championships this year — the indoors in Belgrade in March and then the outdoor world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I missed the competition a lot, the adrenaline of taking on opponents,” he says. 

“But after the Games, I was exhausted, not only physically, but also mentally… I wanted to avoid hurting myself.”

Jacobs has won both the 60m races he has run, in Berlin and Lodz, this month as he ploughs through the indoor season.

Coleman on the horizon

On Thursday he competes in Lievin in France, and takes on a top American for the first time this year, when he faces Ronnie Baker who finished fifth in Tokyo. 

“Thursday will be my first real challenge against one of America’s best, one of the world’s best over 60 metres,” says Jacobs, who is focusing on that distance to boost his sharpness over 100 metres ahead of a potential clash with reigning world champion Christian Coleman in Eugene.

Coleman was absent in Tokyo as he was serving a ban for missing doping tests.

“The 60 metres gets me out of my comfort zone as my strength (over 100m), is from 40 and 50 metres. I have to work hard on the first 30, 40 metres in order to improve,” Jacobs said.

“He (Coleman) will be the favourite over 60 metres but I think I can give him a run for his money over 100 metres at the outdoor worlds.”

Jacobs’ European 60m indoor title from last year had already led experts to wonder how his performances could have improved so quickly without the help of doping.

Jacobs has argued that he was new to sprinting, after switching from the long jump. He also credited his improvement to mental coaching which helped him deal with personal problems, in particular relating to his absentee American father.

“In reality I was already able to run under 10 seconds back in 2018, but I was still doing the long jump. I was timing 10.08 with a technique which wasn’t perfect,” says Jacobs.

“In 2019, I ran at 10.03 when I was still doing the long jump. Even then I could have dropped that to 9.94 or 9.95, if I had taken more care of my technique and everything else I worked on once I stopped doing long jump.

“Last year was the first time I was able to run without physical problems. So it wasn’t in fact such a sudden leap, I should have done it a while ago.”

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