TOKYO (AP) — The Italian Olympic team’s hashtag for the Tokyo Games on social media translates loosely as “Astonish the world.” Who knew that the Latin phrase “Stupor Mundi” would be appropriate, especially for athat didn’t win a single medal at the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro five years ago?
The 2016 Games seem like a distant memory now that Italy has won five medals in track and field — all gold — at thisOlympics. After Marcell Jacobs surprised everyone by winning gold in the 100 meters last weekend — moments after teammate Gianmarco Tamberi had tied for gold in the high jump — the Italians did it again with an unexpected victory in the 4×100 relay on Friday that marked their first relay gold in Olympic history.
So what’s the formula behind this sudden success?
“Work hard, dream big,” Jacobs said after helping teammates Lorenzo Patta, Eseosa Desalu, and Filippo Tortupowerhouse team — or, in recent years, Jamaica led by the now-retired Usain Bolt. Italy saw an opportunity with the U.S. having failed to qualify for the of botched handoffs,
“We believed for real that we could take the gold,” Jacobs said. The Azzurri demonstrated that belief when they stepped onto thefor the final. While other squads posed or in unison, the Italians walked out.
“Before we walked out, we discussed our intro and said to e,ach other, ‘We’re not going to do anything for the intro. We’ll win, which will be our intro,'” Jacobs said.
Entering the final weekend of competition, Italy was tied with the U.S. for the most. What’s more, Italy has already won more medals across all sports at the (38 after Friday) than at any previous Olympics. “Jimbo (Tamberi) and I provided a spark for everyone,” Jacobs said.
Italy’s magical summer began when it won the popular Eurovision Song Contest in May with Manikin. Then Italy’s soccer team won the European Championship title in July. Also, at Wimbledon, tennis player Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam.
Jacobs, who attended some of the soccerin Rome, said he drew inspiration from their performances. “Two I still haven’t realized what happened the first time, so imagine the second,” Jacobs said. “This gold means more to me than the individual one because I get to share it with a for a long time.
“We’ve run so many races together, in which quite often we’ve made mistakes, but slowly but surely you learn from those errors, and here we are winning the months old, and he moved to Italy and never got to know his dad. They reconnected about a year ago by phone as the sprinter tried to learn about his roots.Jacobs was born in Texas to an American father and an Italian mother. His parents split when Jacobs was six
Desalu, who likes being called “Fausto,” also has foreign roots. He was born in Italy to Nigerian parents and couldn’t obtain Italian citizenship until he turned 18 because of a controversial Italian law. So for a country that has been slow to accept immigration, the multi-cultural relay squad is a sign of progress.
“We don’t even realize it,” Jacobs said. “We’re all here competing under one flag, and we never had any doubts about that.” Tortu, who became the first Italian to run the 100 under 10 seconds three years ago with a 9.99, was the star of the night when he made up a deficit to Britain in the anchor leg of the relay and clinched gold with a timely dip at the line.
Italy won by one-hundredth of a second — the smallest margin possible. “I used to get made fun of because when I was a, I would dive even when I was 10 meters ahead of everyone,” Tortu said. “I dive when I’m 10 meters behind. I always dive. But in the end, that dive meant something.
Every centimeter, every millimeter counts. And every centimeter and millimeter represents the sacrifices made to reach this point. “That hundredth needs to be divided by four,” Tortu added. “Everyone did their job. It was a team effort.” More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports. Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf.