SAVONA, Italy (AP) — Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs competed in his first 100-meter race since becoming Olympic champion, winning a meeting in Savona on Wednesday despite a sub-par performance as he returns from an illness.
Jacobs impressed in the heats to win his semifinal in 9.99 seconds but didn’t seem his usual powerful self in the final, despite finishing first with a time of 10.04.
“I struggled a bit, I thought I would run better than in the semifinal,” Jacobs told RAI state television. “I’m lacking a bit that spark, I thought this week without training would help, but this is the first race of the year, there’s time before the worlds.”
The world championships start on July 15 in Eugene, Oregon.
Jacobs had not competed outdoors since his surprise run from unknown to Olympic champion at the Tokyo Games in August, where he won with a European record of 9.80.
He won the 60-meter indoor world title in March.
The 27-year-old Italian was scheduled to compete at the Kip Keino Classic earlier this month but he was hospitalized in Kenya with suspected food poisoning. Jacobs spent two nights in hospital in Nairobi with a gastrointestinal illness.
“I thought I would run better technically, too,” Jacobs said. “We have to improve. It wasn’t the best week of my life in Nairobi, but I wanted to be here.
“I didn’t manage to put out my usual performance, especially in the second half of the race, I’ll have to work on it.”
Jacobs’ unexpected rise started at the Savona meeting last year when he powered to a new Italian record of 9.95 — the first time he had clocked under 10 seconds.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports