The unpredictable field of the Men’s 100 metre Dash lived up to its name on Sunday, as Italy’s Marcell Jacobs took gold in the final and set a new European record. While his win might have been unexpected, there was definitely a spark in the 26-year old, as he had recently won the indoor 60 metre sprint with a world-leading time at the 2021 European Championships. He proceeded to continue his hot streak at the Olympics with runs of 9.94, 9.84, and 9.80 in the final. Jacobs becomes the first Italian to win an Olympic sprint since Livio Berruti won gold at the 200 metre run at the 1960 Games in Rome.
As all-time great Usain Bolt of Jamaica and retired and previous gold medallist Justin Gatlin of USA was suspended for doping, the title of ‘Fastest Man in the World’ was up for grabs with no clear favourite. However, many of the early medal favourites for the event had underwhelming runs. USA’s Trayvon Bromell, who had been projected by many to win the gold, failed to qualify for the final, while his countryman Ronnie Baker and equal medal hopeful finished sixth in the final.
The mixed relays in swimming and athletics both debuted on Saturday. In the swimming pool, Great Britain took the inaugural gold medal in the Mixed 4×200 metre Medley Relay on Saturday en route to a world record. China won silver while Australia won bronze. The heavily-favoured Americans fell just short of the podium, despite a valiant effort from Caeleb Dressel to close a giant gap when the team was left behind.
On the track, it was redemption for the Polish mixed relay team as they took home gold in the inaugural 4×400 metre Relay. During the 2019 World Championships, the Polish team attempted the final race with both male runners in the front of the order with the women anchoring. However, the women would fail to hang on to the lead, dropping from first place to fifth. This year, they fielded the same strategy as other teams, with male runners leading and anchoring, leading them to gold. The Dominican Republic and United States secured silver and bronze respectively.
With all indoor swimming events complete at the Games, USA’s Caeleb Dressel wrapped up his Olympic run with five gold medals, performances which also included two Olympic and world records each. Australia’s Emma McKeon finished with seven medals and will likely leave the Closing Ceremony with the most medals overall. With four gold medals and three bronze medals, McKeon also either recorded or was part of one new world record and three new Olympic records.
With another bronze at the Women’s 4×100 metre Medley Relay on Sunday, Penny Oleksiak became the most decorated Canadian Olympian of all-time with seven medals total.
It has been a Games to remember for the Australian delegation so far. On Thursday, Australia won five medals in a span of an hour, including Ariarne Titmus’ Olympic record-setting swim in the 200 metre Freestyle, as well as four additional rowing medals. The Australians followed up on Sunday with four more gold medals as the nation is now on pace to exceed their total from the 2004 Games in Athens, their most successful Games to date.
San Marino won the nation’s first ever Olympic medal in history on Thursday, as sport shooter Alessandra Perilli won bronze in the Women’s Trap. She followed up with another silver medal on Saturday in the Mixed Trap event.
In another display of sportsmanship, high jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy decided to share the gold medal on Saturday after the two were locked in a tie following the end of regular competition. To avoid a jump-off to declare first and second place, the two shared the same spot on the podium where the national anthems of both their respective nations were played.
In the midst of the nation’s two-year ban in the Olympics, Russian athletes have been enjoying significant success over the first half of the Games, despite being forced to compete under a neutral flag and colours. However, their presence at the Games has irritated competitors and observers alike, where many have argued that the lenience of the suspensions have allowed Russia to make a mockery of sporting’s accountability mechanisms.
Above Featured Image: Italy’s Marcell Jacobs celebrates after a winning the Men’s 100 metre Dash. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)