Olympics-Sprint champion Jacobs hopes to fly the flag for Italy in four years' time


Athletics - World Athletics Championship - Men's 4x100m Final - National Athletics Centre, Budapest, Hungary - August 26, 2023 Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates after finishing second in the Men's 4x100m REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

(Reuters) - Lamont Marcell Jacobs will be among the Italian athletes walking behind flag bearers Arianna Errigo and Gianmarco Tamberi at the Paris Games opening ceremony but he hopes successfully defending his 100m title could land him the honour in four years' time.

Jacobs, who became first Italian to win the men's 100m in Tokyo and also won gold in the 4x100m relay, is set to compete at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meet in Ostrava on Tuesday and the Oslo Diamond League two days later.

Jacobs, who clocked a season's best time of 10.07 seconds to win the 100m at the Roma Sprint Festival earlier this month, told Italian daily La Stampa that he would have loved to have carried the flag in Paris.

"I would have been super happy, there was a lot of competition and Gimbo (Tamberi) is the captain of athletics, he has won everything, he is a motivator and he will certainly know how to play the role," he said.

"I will have to win again in Paris to put myself forward for Los Angeles 2028."

The 29-year-old has endured a series of injury issues since his Tokyo triumph in 2021. He split with long-time coach Paolo Camossi at the end of his 2023 season, the Italian now training under American coach Rana Reider in Jacksonville.

"No Italian had ever reached an Olympic final in the 100 metres and to take our country where it had never been is crazy," said Jacobs, who told the newspaper that one of his goals was still to go into space one day.

"There, in the territory that the Americans identify as almost private property, where we saw (Usain) Bolt (dominate), it really is like 'a space trip'.

"I would really like to be able to see the Earth from the outside, the goal is concrete and remains."

Asked about the World Athletics' (WA) plan to offer prize money to Olympic gold medallists in Paris and the criticism that it went against the Olympic spirit, Jacobs said it was right that athletes were getting the recognition they deserved.

"Looking at it that way doesn't work, then there are disciplines like tennis and football where you stay at a high level five or six years and you're good forever, you and your children," he said.

"No, it's right to give us the recognition we can, to grow up, I feel a different interest in athletics: the Netflix series dedicated to sprinters that is about to come out proves it."

(Reporting by Shifa Jahan in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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