Italy's Olympic champion Jacobs retains European 100m crown

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Italy;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Italy</a>'s Marcell Jacobs celebrates after winning gold medal in the men's 100m final at the European Athletics Championships (Anne-Christine POUJOULAT)

Italy's Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs retained his European 100m crown in Rome on Saturday in the perfect tonic for the upcoming Paris Games.

Jacobs timed a season's best of 10.02 seconds to claim gold. Italian teammate Chituru Ali took silver in 10.05sec, with Briton Romel Glave claiming bronze in 10.06sec.

After three poorly-attended sessions, there was a sizeable, noisy crowd at the Stadio Olimpico to see the homecoming of Rome local Jacobs, born in the United States to an American soldier father and Italian mother, but raised by the latter in the eternal city.

He received a vociferous welcome from the baying crowd, acclaiming the applause like a Roman emperor.

With a smile, Jacobs turned his focus to the track.

A false start shattered the stillness at the Stadio Olimpico, Ali shown a yellow card as the sprinters moved back to their blocks and got set for the second time of asking.

This time there was no mistake and Jacobs led from gun to tape, although pushed by Ali and Glave.

A vicious dip at the line ensured Jacobs back-to-back European golds, to the delight of the large crowd.

"I had three goals: health, defending the European title and then the Olympic one," said Jacobs.

"I won again and I am very glad of it. It was the first time in this season that I ran two races closely. In the final I felt a cramp on the right calf but I went on, I gritted my teeth because I wanted to win, ahead of this amazing audience."

Jacobs caused an upset when he won Olympic gold at the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.

The Italian set an European record of 9.80sec to seal that victory, quickly bagging a second gold as part of the 4x100m relay.

He followed that success up by winning the 2022 world indoor 60m title in Belgrade and the European 100m gold later the same year in Munich.

A series of injuries ensued, but Jacobs has shown his resolve and tellingly changed coach in Olympic year, moving to the United States to work under Rana Reider.

- 'On the right way' -

"I changed almost everything in my life and I promised myself that I would want to give Italy more emotions," Jacobs said.

"I am very happy because everything is getting better race after race. I know I made a big bet on myself, I knew that I came in Rome not in the best shape but I won and it is one of the goals of the season.

"We are on the right way, for sure."

Jacobs said his victory at the Tokyo Olympics, allied with the relay gold, had had an impact on the Italian team.

"I am very happy even for Ali: he deserved a result like this. He worked hard, as did the entire italian team," Jacobs said.

"After Tokyo every one of us want to win every race, not just compete. We have a very strong team and I believe the satisfactions will be even greater."

Ali added: "I wanted to win, absolutely. I tried to grab the gold medal but Marcel is still the champion. He is an example for me and I am glad to share my first podium with him.

"I am very happy, I don't think I have fully realised what I have done yet. But I gained a lot of self confidence."